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Gulmarg Land Scam: Court reserved orders on framing of charges

Srinagar, April 7, CNS: Additional Sessions Judge Baramulla (with powers of Special Judge Anti-Corruption) Jatinder Singh Jamwal has reserved the orders on framing of charges in the much publicized Gulmarg Land Scam. After hearing a battery of lawyers representing the high profile accused Mehboob Iqbal (IAS) Former Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Khan (IAS) Former Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and more than eight top hoteliers of Kashmir Valley, the Additional Sessions Judge Baramulla (with powers of Special Judge Anti-Corruption) reserved the orders on charge/discharge.
Senior Advocate Z.A. Shah representing the accused vehemently argued for the discharge of the accused and submitted that VOK wrongly booked the accused in this case and on the other hand the Public Prosecutor representing VOK justified the registration of FIR and sought framing of charges against the high profile accused. He further submitted that the accused public servants entered into a criminal conspiracy with the high profile hoteliers/beneficiaries and deprived the State of valuable land running into crores of Rupees. He further submitted that there was no question of grant of ownership rights to the beneficiaries/ hoteliers when the land was outside the purview of the Roshini Act.
The Gulmarg Land scam according to CNS came into limelight in 2009 when VOK registered an FIR in this matter against the then Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Mehboob Iqbal (IAS), Baseer Khan (IAS) the then Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and more than eight hoteliers of Kashmir for alleged grant of ownership of state land duly transferred to Gulmarg Development Authority. Some of the accused sought the quashment of FIR in Srinagar Wing of the High Court and the State High Court dismissed the said writ petition and gave green signal to the VOK to go ahead with the investigation. The VOK after completion of investigation sought the sanction for prosecution from the State Government but due to lackadaisical approach the sanction was delayed.
At this stage two Social Activists of Jammu Sheikh Mohd. Shafi and Prof. S.K. Bhalla filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Jammu Wing of the High Court in which directions were sought to the State Government to accord sanction for prosecution in six high profile FIRs including FIR pertaining to the Gulmarg Land Scam.
A Division Bench of the State High Court headed by then Chief Justice M.M. Kumar after expressing displeasure over the dilatory tactics of the State Government in September, 2013 directed the SVO to produce the Challan against Mehboob Iqbal (IAS) who had retired by that time and other accused in the Court of Special Judge Anti-Corruption Kashmir within two weeks. The Division Bench also issued directions to the GAD to forward the papers of Baseer Khan (IAS) the then Deputy Commissioner Baramulla for accord of prosecution sanction under Section 6 of Prevention of Corruption Act to the Department of Personnel and Trainings, Government of India as the said officer was in service at that time.
The SVO on the directions of the Division Bench produced a challan under Section 5(2) Prevention of Corruption Act against the Former Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Mehboob Iqbal (IAS) and others in the court of Special Judge Anti-Corruption Srinagar and the VOK also filed a supplementary challan against Baseer Khan after the receipt of the prosecution sanction from DOPT, Govt. of India. The Special Judge Anti-Corruption Srinagar transferred both the challans to the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Baramulla in view of conferment of powers under PC Act upon the said Court.
After hearing a battery of lawyers in this much publicized Gulmarg Land Scam, the Additional Sessions Judge, Baramulla Mr.Jatinder Singh Jamwal reserved his orders on framing of charges. (CNS)