JAIPUR: In compliance with a court directive, the police on Monday registered a criminal case against the former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and five others in connection with the Deendayal Upadhyay Trust land scam. All of them have been accused of cheating, criminal conspiracy and breach of trust.
According to police sources, the first information report was registered at Gandhi Nagar police station here after receiving the orders of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate H.S. Sisodia passed on Friday. The Special Public Prosecutor had assured the court that its directions “will be carried out in toto.”
The Crime Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department would probe the matter. The case pertains to allotment of 7,693 square metres of land at a prime location in the Civil Lines area here to the trust, headed by Ms. Raje, at a concessional rate of five per cent of the the market price that prevailed in July 2006 during the Bharatiya Janata Party regime.The case has been registered under Sections 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant or by banker, merchant or agent) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. The offences under Sections 420 and 409 are cognisable and non-bailable, and punishable with a maximum prison term of seven and 10 years, respectively.
Besides Ms. Raje, the accused named in the FIR are the former Jaipur Mayor and BJP MLA Ashok Parnami, the former Rajasthan BJP president Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi, the former Minister Pratap Singh Singhvi, the former Rajasthan Housing Board Chairman Ajay Pal Singh and the then Jaipur Development Authority (JDA)Commissioner D.B. Gupta.
The court gave the directions to police on a complaint filed by Sriganganagar-based lawyer Srikrishna Kukkar, who alleged open violation of the JDA rules and regulations by Ms. Raje and the others. He also sought seizure of the trust’s bank accounts.
Earlier on November 10, 2006, another magistrate directed the police to register an FIR and launch an investigation but the order was not complied with.
The city police took refuge under Section 156 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers police officers to investigate cognisable offences on their own without a court order.
The scam came to light in late 2006 when Congress leader Sushil Sharma filed a public interest writ petition before the Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court. The JDA told the court that the issue did not exist any longer as the trust had decided to return the contentious plot of land.
The land, valued at Rs. 50 crore, was allotted to the trust for Rs. 65 lakh on July 4, 2006, before it was registered on August 20, 2006. The High Court then ordered that all documents relating to the application, allocation and cancellation be made available on oath.
The criminal case was registered hot on the heels of a letter written by the former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, asking him to probe the charges levelled by the Congress during its election campaign that the Vasundhara Raje government was involved in corruption to the tune of Rs. 22,000 crore.