The Delhi High Court Tuesday directed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to examine the status of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation into the alleged land scam inKandla Port.
Asking the CVC to study the CBI probe, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued notice to the CVC and sought a reply within two weeks. The matter is listed for May 8.
An NGO, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), has alleged a huge land scam for the last 40 years in the allotment of 16,000 acres of government land near Kandla Port in Gujarat, causing a huge loss to the national exchequer.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, filing a fresh application in the case on behalf of CPIL, demanded the CVC to monitor the CBI investigation. He said: “The CVC must be directed to over-see the CBI investigation that has been conducted so far and also what is still being conducted.”
“Through this application, the petitioner would like to bring to light the serious shortcomings in the CBI investigation and call for certain urgent orders from this court,” the application submitted.
The application alleged that several cases relating to land allotment in the Kandla port were forwarded to the CBI for investigation by Manoranjan Kumar, Deputy Chairperson-cum-Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of the Kandla Port Trust in his report.
“However, no action was taken on the most important report of the CVO submitted in July 2008 which pertained to 16,000 acres of land and encapsulated the role of the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India in covering-up the said scam,” said the application.
The High Court, which had earlier allowed the CBI inquiry into the alleged scam asked it to file a detailed status report on all the cases, but Bhushan alleged that the CBI has given a report which is short of details.
The CBI report dated Jan 18, 2012 gives the current status of only four cases, he alleged, adding that in two of the four cases, a chargesheet has been filed against senior officials of the Kandla Port including its former chairpersons.
“It is surprising that CBI has not found the involvement of a single official of the Ministry of Shipping in these two cases,” Bhushan told the bench.
In the other case, the CBI status report stated that the investigations would take 2 months to finalize. To this, the lawyer submitted: “This is an extremely serious case of cheating and corruption, where clear-cut evidence is present for chargesheeting the accused. The delay in finalization of investigation raises serious suspicions on the conduct of the investigation.”
Bhushan alleged that in another case in which the CBI submitted its status report, the investigating agency has apparently finalized its inquiry, without even registering a regular case, and sought to close the matter.
As per the petition, from the 1960s to the 1970s, land near Kandla Port was leased out on nomination basis and not on competitive bidding. It is further alleged that most of the leases around the port have also expired, and the conduct of the Ministry of Shipping is in violation of provision of Major Port Trust Act, 1963 and the guidelines of the government.
The petition has prayed before the High Court to direct taking back the possession of the 16,000 acres of government land and evict trespassers who are in illegal occupation of the land.