Thursday, February 29, 2024

HC holds 2nd hearing of PIL


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Irregularities in land allotment

SHILLONG: The High Court of Meghalaya on Friday heard a PIL filed against the Chief Secretary and Meghalaya Civil servants for availing land at Rs 1 per square feet.
The Division Bench of the Court comprising Chief Justice PC Pant and Justice SR Sen posted the matter for final hearing after two weeks.
It was on December 17, 2012 that the first hearing on the PIL filed by the CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing in the same year was heard by the Court.
The scam came to light after CAG report for the year ended March 31, 2011, had pointed out irregularities in the allotment of land at Mawdiangdiang to the civil servants.
According to CAG, ” Unauthorised allotment of land to the Civil Service Officers Housing Co-operative Society Ltd as well as incorrect fixation of premium at a lower rate resulted in undue financial benefit of Rs 78.42 lakh to the Society besides allotment of land in excess of the prescribed limit”.
Earlier the respondents had filed their affidavits in opposition to the PIL and replies to  the Commissioner and Secretary  Urban Affairs Department, Commissioner and  Secretary Revenue Department and , the Civil Services Officers Housing Co-Operative Society Ltd, , Madanryting, were filed by the petitioner on Friday.
In a statement issued here, Kharshiing said that she had urged the Court to institute a CBI inquiry into the matter.
“There should be a proper inquiry into the matter of unauthorized allotment of land and the CBI should  investigate the matter,” Kharshiing said.
In reply to the Civil Services Officers Housing Co-Operative Society Ltd, Kharshiing said that it was unusual that State Government leased the land measuring   45.01 acres for a period 99 years as this is not followed by the Government of Meghalaya as per the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886 as adopted by the State of Meghalaya.
Countering the denial of the Government on the role of the Chief Secretary WMS Pariat, Kharshiing said that  the Chief Secretary has abused his power and position and worked as a “file pusher” to benefit himself along  with other members of the Civil Service Officers Housing Co-operative Society Ltd.
According to Kharshiing, the Chief Secretary himself has approved the allotment of the land which is very much evident from the documents obtained by way of the R.T.I. wherein it is clearly mentioned that “a committee for allotment of government land has been constituted with Chief Secretary  as the Chairman”.
“It will not be out of place to say that some of the members of the Civil Service Officers Housing Co-operative Society Ltd. were involved in the process leading to unauthorized allotment of land for their own personal benefit”, she said.
Kharshiing also said that there is so much of similarity between the Adarsh Housing Society Scam in Mumbai, Maharashtra and the present case  because of the fact that in the case of Adarsh Housing Society scam, the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to the President of India in 2011 said, “The episode of Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society reveals how a group of select officials placed in key post, could subvert rules and regulations in order to grab prime government land- a public property- for personal benefit.”
Kharshiing said in her reply in the Court that even in the instant case of Meghalaya, the top officials in key post with a preset mind have first constituted a cooperative society taking into consideration of the present Meghalaya Land Transfer (Regulation) Act 1971 and then subverted  rules and regulation in order to grab Government land in a throw away price for their personnel benefit  for residential purposes.


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