Hoshiarpur land scam: Setback for vigilance bureau as Ludhiana court rejects closure report - Hindustan Times
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Hoshiarpur land scam: Setback for vigilance bureau as Ludhiana court rejects closure report

By, Jalandhar
Apr 06, 2022 01:42 AM IST

Ludhiana court on Tuesday rejected the closure or cancellation report filed by the Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) in the multi-crore Hoshiarpur land scam case of 2017

The Ludhiana court on Tuesday rejected the closure or cancellation report filed by the Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) in the multi-crore Hoshiarpur land scam case of 2017. The additional and sessions judge, Ajit Atri on Tuesday disposed of the matter with the directions of further investigation. On June 14, 2019, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau had filed a closure report at the Ludhiana court in the case almost eight days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a chargesheet against six people who were accused in the matter with the special PMLA court in Jalandhar.

On June 14, 2019, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau had filed a closure report in the Hoshiarpur land scam case at the Ludhiana court almost eight days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a chargesheet against six people who were accused in the matter with the special PMLA court in Jalandhar. (HT Photo/ Representational image)
On June 14, 2019, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau had filed a closure report in the Hoshiarpur land scam case at the Ludhiana court almost eight days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a chargesheet against six people who were accused in the matter with the special PMLA court in Jalandhar. (HT Photo/ Representational image)

“No forgery was committed by anyone while purchasing the land. During the investigation, the role of the suspects was probed but no evidence of bribery was found. Therefore, no criminality is involved on part of the accused,” the closure report reads. Hoshiarpur-based RTI activist Rajiv Vashisht, the whistle-blower in the case, said, “We welcomed the order by the Ludhiana court and hope that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government will get the case probed on the basis of merit so that the accused should get punished.”

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Meanwhile, the ED had filed a chargesheet against Harpinder Singh Gill, Satwinderpal Singh Dhatt, Avtar Singh Johal, Pardeep Gupta, Parteek Gupta, and Jaswinderpal Singh, who were summoned by the special PMLA court, Jalandhar, on September 3, 2019, to face a trial under money laundering charges. The ED had opposed the cancellation report in the Ludhiana court.

In February 2017, Punjab civil services (PCS) officer Anand Sagar Sharma, the then Hoshiarpur SDM, along with then Shiromani Akali Dal leaders from Hoshiarpur Satwinderpal Singh, Avtar Singh Johal, Harpinder Singh Gill besides local businessman Parteek Gupta, his father Pardeep Gupta, Jaswinderpal Singh and others, were booked by the vigilance bureau in Hoshiarpur land scam case.

After Hindustan Times reported the alleged scam in June 2016, the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal ordered a vigilance probe headed by the inspector-general of police (IGP) Shive Kumar Verma. As per the FIR of February 2017, the Akali leaders and other land dealers, in alleged connivance with the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), purchased land notified for a national highway project in the names of their families from farmers at relatively low prices and then sold it to the government on higher rates. Also, chunks of farmland purchased by these dealers and politicians were shown as residential colonies to get even higher compensation.

The ED had flagged wrongdoings worth crores in its challan filed against the six people in the Jalandhar court. The ED chargesheet says the accused got compensation from the government by claiming their land to be of commercial and residential nature, although it was actually agricultural. The enforcement case information report (ECIR) registered by the ED in the case has added that 58 crore in total was paid in excess to private parties by wrongly calculating the amount of compensation on residential/commercial rates.

“It can be easily construed that their intention was to get the type of land changed in government record and claim higher compensation in connivance with government officials, including SDM Anand Sagar Sharma. They succeeded in their motive and got the type of land changed to suit them. Consequently, they received exorbitant compensation which was more than 10 times the amount they invested,” the chargesheet adds.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    A staff correspondent, based in Jalandhar covers Doaba Region of Punjab. Reports about Punjab Police, Enforcement Directorate, politics, corruption, legal, rural areas, socio-economic issues and technical education besides having specialisation in the investigative stories.

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