Baramulla: Special Judge Anti-Corruption North Kashmir Naseer Ahmad Dar has issued directions to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to further investigate the infamous ‘Gulmarg Land Scam.’
This scam surfaced in 2009 while a formal case vide number 8/2009 stands registered in this regard at Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Special Judge Anti-Corruption according to news agency KNT directed ACB Srinagar to submit the supplementary charge sheet before the Court within a period of four months from the date of receipt of the order.
The further investigation has been ordered with regard to the impact of the documents and material which find mention in the Judgment of the High Court dated October 15, 2018, which directed the trial court to hear the arguments on charge and discharge taking into consideration the record produced by the Vigilance Organization.
According to the two charge sheets, sub-judice before the trial court at Baramulla, there are 20 accused in the Gulmarg land scam namely Mehboob Iqbal (IAS) the then Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan (IAS) the then Deputy Commissioner Baramulla presently Advisor to Lieutenant Governor J&K, Hoteliers of Kashmir Valley Mushtaq Ahmed Ganai alias Chaya, Mushtaq Ahmad Burza, Manzoor Ahmad Burza, Syed Musadiq Shah, Muhammad Afzal Khanday and several middle rung Revenue Officials then serving in Baramulla and Tangmarg area.
After hearing Senior Advocate Zaffar Ahmed Shah and Advocate Sheikh Faraz Iqbal and a battery of lawyers appearing for the high profile accused and Special Public Prosecutor VOK, the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Baramulla Naseer Ahmad Dar observed that the opinion of the Advocate General as well as the communications/letters, the reference of which has been given by the High Court in its Para 14 are not undisputedly part of the report filed in terms of Section 173 CrPC by the Vigilance Organization, Kashmir against the accused persons.
Furthermore, the reference of other documents given by the High Court in its order dated 15-10-2018 appeared to have been issued in the year 2016 i.e. after presentation of the charge sheet before this Court and the fact of the matter is that the charges against the accused persons are yet to be framed.
The Court further observed that these documents/communications and the other facts does not form the part of the report u/s 173 CrPC, however, in view of the observations made by the High Court in its order dated 15-10-2018 regarding these material/documents in my opinion now assumes importance. The Vigilance Organization Kashmir/Investigating Officer of the case must have been the knowledge about the discoveries and the developments which has surfaced and taken place in the instant case from the date of registration of the aforementioned FIR till date. Although these documents are not part of the report u/s 173 Cr.P.C but assumes importance in view of the facts and circumstances of the case and in view of the development which has taken place after the passing of the order by this Court vide dated 25-06-2016 and thereafter the observations made by the High Court in the order dated 15-10-2018. The knowledge of the investigating authority can be presumed regarding the existence of these documents and same can be ascertained from the letter addressed by the GAD to Inspector General Vigilance Organization Kashmir vide letter No.GAD (VIG) 12.WP/2016 dated 16-09-2016.
The Special Public Prosecutor VOK contended that there are sufficient grounds available in the charge sheet in order to proceed against the accused persons in the trial, as such, accused persons be charged for the offences leveled against them. He has further contented that court is not supposed to evaluate the evidence minutely in order to see whether accused can be convicted or acquitted which can be seen only after full-dress trial of the case. At this stage the court has to see whether there is sufficient material /grounds in order to proceed against the accused persons with the trial of the case.
On the other hand Senior Advocate Z.A. Shah submitted that the official accused persons have performed their duties in their official capacity by directing the beneficiary/accused to deposit the amount as was fixed in the meeting held on 04-06-2009 headed by accused No.1 Mehbool Iqbal (IAS) the then Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and it is alleged that the said officials have considered the cases of the accused beneficiaries without any verification and even they have considered their cases filed under the scheme of Roshni Act after the cut-of-date which may amount to irregularities and for that matter there is a penalty clause provided under Section 17 of the Roshni Act 2001, as such, the official accused persons have not committed any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He has also argued that there is no any meeting of minds between the official accused and the beneficiary accused persons, as such, there is no any criminal conspiracy prima facie established against the accused persons in the case.
The other Advocates appearing for rest of the accused persons according to KNT also adopted the arguments put forth by Senior Advocate Z.A. Shah and besides that Advocate Sheikh Faraz Iqbal appearing for accused No.1 Sheikh Mehboob Iqbal has also contended that no offence is made out against the accused persons. He further argued that till date the State Government is not clear whether the Act of 2001 in short Roshni Act is applicable in the cases of accused/ beneficiary or not.
After hearing both the sides at length in this case having long chequered history, the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara Naseer Ahmad Dar has issued directions to the Anti-Corruption Bureau Kashmir, Srinagar to further investigate in case FIR No.08/2009 P/S VOK (infamous Gulmarg land scam) and further directed ACB Srinagar to submit the supplementary charge sheet before the Court within a period of four months from the date of receipt of the order.