Delhi

L-G office hiding facts on land scam probe: AAP

Saurabh Bharadwaj

Saurabh Bharadwaj | Photo Credit: File photo

Even as Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena suspended two more officials on charges of corruption on Friday, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accused the L-G of trying to “spin a narrative of a land scam in north Delhi to project Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a bad light”.

The allegation came in the wake of disciplinary proceedings being launched against four Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDMs), on the instructions of Mr. Saxena, over their alleged involvement in a land scam. The officials have been accused of “selling evacuee property to private entities for pecuniary benefits” during their tenure as SDM, Alipur, between 2015 and June 2021. One of the suspended officials was posted as a Deputy Secretary at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office.

AAP chief spokesperson and chairman of Privileges Committee of the Delhi Legislative Assembly, Saurabh Bharadwaj, said the matter had been examined by the committee first but the L-G attempted to “hide this fact”.

“The L-G office did not tell the media the full reason for suspending the four SDMs and officers. I had raised the issue of the land scam in the Assembly during question hour,” Mr. Bharadwaj said.

‘L-G being misled’

“This isn’t a matter of corruption by the Deputy Secretary at the Chief Minister’s Office but illegally transferring government land as SDM; the L-G office should avoid spreading misinformation. The officers there are either misleading the L-G or he is voluntarily being misled,” he said.

During the investigation into the alleged land scam, Mr. Bharadwaj said, the committee had several times called upon the then Divisional Commissioner, Sanjeev Khirwar, and later the current Divisional Commissioner, K.R. Meena.The investigation revealed that the land in question measured over 500 bighas and was valued at over ₹500 crore, which a few SDMs had, over time, “managed to illegally transfer” to private parties.

“The then Divisional Commissioner, Sanjeev Khirwar, gave vague answers and the committee was not satisfied with the response of the department,” Mr. Bharadwaj said.

“He [Khirwar] was called upon several times and he was trying to shield officers who were involved in this corruption. His responses were misleading and he was given a contempt notice,” he added.

Revenue records forged

Mr. Bharadwaj made the allegations on a day when the L-G ordered the suspension of a Sub-Registrar at Hauz Khas, D.C. Sahoo, and another government official, Ramesh Kumar, for “grave misconduct and corruption”. The two allegedly forged revenue records to transfer prime land worth several crores on Josip Broz Tito Marg in Chirag Delhi to a private party, said Raj Niwas.

“The L-G had been receiving several complaints against the Sub-Registrar from MPs and MLAs cutting across party lines and citizens living in that area,” a Raj Niwas source said.

“Serious charges of corruption, including blatant demand of bribes for registering properties, subversion of documents and high handedness, were brought to his notice,” the source added.

On the latest suspensions, Mr. Bharadwaj asked why was it being “projected as if the L-G took the action on his own”. He said the Assembly committee investigated this matter too, but important facts were “suppressed” by the officials at the L-G’s office.

BJP wants Assembly session

Meanwhile, the Delhi BJP Legislature Party demanded a special Assembly session regarding alleged corruption in the city government “immediately”.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri accused the AAP government of patronising corruption.

“It is surprising that a Minister, Satyendar Jain, is under arrest for the last one month, but Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has neither removed him from the Cabinet nor taken any action against him,” Mr. Bidhuri said.

“Many allegations of corruption are being levelled against the Kejriwal government. A big scam has come to light regarding the construction of seven temporary hospitals running only on paper,” he said.


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Printable version | Aug 2, 2022 10:03:06 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/l-g-office-hiding-facts-on-land-scam-probe-aap/article65562165.ece