It is quite apposite that the J&K High Court has transferred the ‘Roshni Scam’ to CBI for a thorough probe while raising several questions with the manner in which Anti-Corruption Bureau handled the case with delay writ large given the fact that beneficiaries include those who wield great influence in government functioning.
The Vigilance Organization, presently ACB, had filed 17 cases only in which seven FIRs had been registered in Jammu and 10 FIRs in Srinagar. When compared against the extent of the illegal occupation and encroachment of State land, only 17 shows the complicity in the misappropriation of State property, of those enjoined to bring the culprits to book and also of those required to protect State land and to effect recovery of public property.
“In the closure report, the ACB virtually exhibited its helplessness to proceed against the ‘Big Sharks’ and despite unearthing the crime, preferred to adopt silence as the accused involved were highly influential and enjoying clout in the corridors of power,” the court has said.
The public property has to be dealt with fairly and its distribution has to be equally done for a public purpose ensuring maximum consideration, the top court of the country has repeatedly underscored it in catena of judgments.
Among others, the J&K High Court has quite aptly asked the CBI to inquire into the continued encroachments on State lands, illegal change of ownership and use, grant of licences on encroached State lands besides fixing the responsibility and culpability of the persons who were at the helm of affairs, otherwise duty-bound and responsible for taking action.
The State is the trustee of all-natural resources and it’s the public at large which is the beneficiary. As fittingly observed by the court, the State as a trustee is under a legal duty to protect the natural resources.
Now that the court has found that there has been a lot suggesting connivance of those otherwise meant to protect the public interest, it has a duty on part of the CBI to complete its investigation fairly. It should be mindful of the court’s direction that “any effort to delay the enquiry by (it) in any manner should be construed as active connivance by such person(s) with those whose culpability is being investigated.”