Some of the senior-most officials of the Defence Estates department could be under the scanner with the Defence Ministry deciding to hand over a controversial land transfer case in Jodhpur for investigations to the CBI.
The decision to rope in the CBI comes after an internal probe by the Defence Ministry that was conducted by an additional secretary rank officer into the transfer of land in 2007 to a private trust headed by a royal family of Jodhpur.
The case is considered sensitive as the names of some top defence estates officials have been associated with the land transfer,including former director general Defence Estates A K Harnal who retired last year. Another officer associated with the transfer case,the then Defence Estates Officer of Jodhpur Sunil Kumar Sharma,died under suspicious circumstances in Danapur in December last year.
Defence Ministry officials said the CBI has been asked to probe the matter after it first came to light last year. Following reports about the controversial transfer of land,valued at over Rs 16 crore,an internal inquiry was conducted by the ministry.
The inquiry looked into allegations that the prime 4.84-acre of defence land was transferred to the private trust without requisite government approvals and was done allegedly after it was termed as excess land.
The transfer of the land was approved in 2007 after the Defence Estates department took a decision that the private trust could get possession of the land despite a court case filed by it against the department,as it was excess land.
However,the decision to transfer the prime land was questioned by Defence Estates officials internally who argued that the local military authority handed over the land without a government order and without taking due approvals.
The latest land scandal has come to hit the armed forces after the Sukhna land controversy that led to the court martial of two top Lt Gens after they were found to be taking undue interest in giving no objection certificates to a private builder for construction near an Army base. Another land scandal that hit the armed forces was the Adarsh Housing Society controversy in which several retired officers,including former Army and Navy chiefs,were named.