AFTER A fresh indictment by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Special Judge (Anti-Corruption) Baramulla is set to hear on Monday the final arguments on framing of charges against Baseer Ahmad Khan, Advisor to J&K Lieutenant Governor, in the 2009 Gulmarg land scandal.
The case involving the top functionary in the current government has grabbed attention, especially because the ruling BJP has called its government’s action to nullify Roshni Act “a surgical strike against the corrupt of J&K”. The Gulmarg land scandal is one of the high-profile cases where top officials were booked for allegedly violating the Roshni Act to transfer state land to private persons.
In June this year, Special Judge (Anti-Corruption) Naseer Ahmad Dar had directed the ACB to further investigate the case. Last month, the agency filed a report, indicting Khan once again in the case.
In 2009, the State Vigilance Organisation – now ACB – had registered a case against 20 people, including Khan, the then Baramulla Deputy Commissioner, and six other top bureaucrats, for allegedly misusing their official positions to transfer state land in Gulmarg, earmarked for development of tourist infrastructure, to private parties. This, the agency had said, was in violation of the J&K State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 or Roshni Act.
Khan was arrested on September 23, 2013 on charge of corruption and granted bail the same day. He went on to become Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir. He was given an extension by the current government after superannuation. Subsequently, he was named Advisor by the Centre in March this year.
The new indictment by the ACB left red faces in the administration, which has been claiming success in its fight against corruption, especially after the abrogation of J&K’s special status last year. However, the government has maintained a complete silence on the issue.
Though the Roshni Act was scrapped by the then Governor Satya Pal Malik soon after central rule was imposed in J&K in 2018, the J&K High Court in its judgment last month called the manner in which ownership of state land was transferred under this law “loot to own”. The court transferred the probe to CBI and specifically asked it to “fix the responsibility and culpability of the persons who were at the helm of affairs…”. The current government has announced that it would implement the court order and initiated steps to retrieve the land.
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