ACB charge-sheets Ex-JMC Commissioner Kiran Wattal, others
Wattal approved the building permission without referring the same to BOCA or UTEIC and even did not consider the objection raised by ACR Jammu and AC Nazool
STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Jammu on Saturday presented challan against Ex-JMC Commissioner Kiran Wattal and others under section 5(1) (d) r/w 5(2) of J&K P.C. Act Svt. 2006 and 120-B RPC.
According to ACB, verification was conducted on the basis of a complaint wherein it was alleged that one Pardeep Kumar and Kuldeep Kumar had been granted building permission for raising residential as well as commercial structure at Gumat Chowk, Jammu, illegally and against the laid down procedure by the Municipal Corporation Jammu.
During the course of verification it was found that applicants Pardeep Kumar and Kuldeep Kumar had initially applied for building permission on March 18, 2014 on the prescribed “Form A” Rule 4(A), however, on April 23, 2014 they again submitted their case with a revised building plan.
On scrutiny of records, it came to light that while their case for issuance of NOC was under process, the then ACR Jammu, AC Nazool and Town Planning Section raised strong objections to the effect that the land was a Temple land and there was no revenue entry recorded in the name of the applicants and that there was only one attested lease deed with cuttings and no Khasra number was mentioned and that the case was not referred to UTEIC as suggested by the Town Planning Wing etc. and because of these observations the building permission was not granted online in favour of the applicants. However, surprisingly the Senior Town Planner Farzana Naqshbandi recommended and forwarded the case of the applicants to the then Municipal Commissioner Jammu Kiran Wattal, who approved the building permission without referring the same to BOCA or UTEIC and even did not consider the objection raised by ACR Jammu and AC Nazool, deliberately and with malafide intentions, in which the Municipal Commissioner on the last day of hisposting issued the building permission in favour of the beneficiaries, illegally.
The verification further found that applicants had shown the total plot area as 2635 Sq.ft in their application as a single entity and as per the approved plan, they were allowed to construct lower ground floor, front floor, upper, 1st floor as commercial measuring 999 sq.ft each and 2nd floor measuring 999 Sq. ft as residential keeping the remaining 1636 Sq.ft land as vacant, but on the spot no such land was left vacant as the entire area was brought under construction. The inspecting officer too submitted a false report that there was a GI shed measuring 16’6″ X 35′ being used for making Pawas (wooden pillars) and proposed construction was yet to be raised on the plot area 2635 Sq.ft but as per the documents of lease deed dated 26.09.86, there were two different site plans, one where the construction was going on and the other measuring 643.50 Sq.ft was adjoining Hotel Vardhman, though on the contrary, the piece of land where the construction was going on was adjoining Hotel Vardhman with no vacant land and no space for parking as was prescribed in the site plan.
The verification further found that the land in question was basically state land and was acquired by Rani Blori Temple during the rule of Maharaja, however, the officers simply relied upon the lease deed which had visible cutting with no specific Khasra number and granted the permission in favour of the applicants, illegally thereby conferring huge pecuniary advantage on them as the permission in question facilitated them to raise a huge commercial structure at a prime location.
As the verification, prima facie, found the criminal misconduct on the part of Senior Town Planner Farzan Naqashbandi and Kiran Wattal the then Commissioner Municipal Jammu who, by abuse and misuse of their official position, as public servants, with dishonest intentions sanctioned building permission in favour of the beneficiaries namely Pardeep Kumar & Kuldeep Kumar, because of which they raised a huge commercial complex in Jammu, as such, the FIR 12/2019 under section 5(1)(d) J&K PC Act r/w 120-B RPC punishable u/s 5(2) of the Act was registered at Police Station Anti Corruption bureau Jammu for investigation.
During the course of investigation, on scrutiny of the seized records it was found that after the application for the issuance of building permission was filed by the beneficiaries, Municipal Corporation Jammu processed the same with different agencies to have the requisite NOCs which were mandated before the accord of such permission. Records have revealed that the Assistant Commissioner (Nazool) refused issuance of NOC by stating in his report that the subject land was recorded as Sarkar in the ownership column and in the possession column it was recorded in the name of Mandir Sh. Ragunath Ji, and as such, these types of lands were not subject to sale/lease as per Ailan No. 35, therefore, his office was constrained to issue NOC. While considering the issuance of NOC, the Town Planning Organization Jammu suggested referral of the case to UTEIC, whereas, Assistant Commissioner Revenue Jammu refused the NOC as the title of the land was not clear.
During the course of investigation it was also revealed that lease deed of land situated at Gummat Jammu owned by Mandir Sh. Raghunath Ji Maharaj was executed between Vijay Kumar & Others as lessor and Kuldeep Kumar and Pardeep Kumar Ss/o Shanti Parkash as lessee, though Khasra No of the said piece of land, was not mentioned.
Further, there was no related revenue records with respect to the said lease deeds. During investigation, a letter was also issued to Assistant commissioner (Nazool) to furnish the attested copy of Ailan No. 35, who vide letter No. ACN/2019-20/304 dated August 28, 2019 provided the attested copy of said Ailan which revealed that land of Mandir can neither be sold nor leased out.
During investigation, a letter was issued to Joint Commissioner (A), Municipal Corporation, Jammu to have more clarity on the guidelines of BOCA for recommending the building permission cases, who, vide letter No. JMC/Estt/5015-16 dated 27.08.2022 provided the relevant information, on perusal of which it was found that under Rule 3.2 of Jammu Municipal Corporation(Building) Bye Laws, 2011 the building permission Authority was constituted whose role was also defined. Under Sec 3.2(b) of Jammu Municipality Corporation (Building) Bye-Laws, 2011 it was prescribed that, the authority shall preferably meet once in a fortnight on a fixed date and in case of holiday the said meeting shall be held on a next working day. The date, time and place of the meeting shall be determined by the Chairman of the Authority who happens to be Commissioner of Municipal Corporation”. It was also mentioned in the letter that all types of building permission cases were placed before BOCA whereas building permission cases of commercial and institutional buildings having more than 20,000/- sft. total floor area were to be forwarded to Urban Transport Environment Improvement Committee(UTEIC). However, it was further revealed that in the light of ease of doing business and instructions of Administrative department issued vide letter HuD/Adm/36/2006-II dated July 12, 2012, the meeting of BOCA was not held from Sept, 2012 to Nov, 2015. Further, Joint Commissioner (A), Municipal Corporation, Jammu vide letter no. JMC/Estt/S/285-86 dated October 13, 2020 intimated that no violation was found at the time of construction.
During the course of investigation admitted handwritings and signatures of both the accused public servants were obtained from the concerned and thereafter their specimen handwriting and signatures were also obtained in presence of an Executive Magistrate and all these documents together with the questioned documents were submitted to the FSL for expert opinion, which gave the opinion vide Report No. 39/DOC/FSL/21 dated 26.04.2021 issued under letter No. FSL/J/166/FSLdated26.04 that the questioned handwritings and signatures of both the accused persons matched with their respective specimens and admitted handwritings and signatures.
During further investigation of the case, persons acquainted with the case were examined and their statements were recorded. Accused beneficiaries namely Kuldeep Kumar and Pardeep Kumar, son of. Shanti Parkash during the course of investigation secured interim bail from the Court vide order dated July 06, 2019 which was made absolute vide order dated August 31, 2019.
During the course of further investigation, accused STP Farzana Naqshbandi was prematurely retired from Govt. service with effect from April 1, 2022 on the basis of her doubtful/unsatisfactory conduct/integrity.
In this regard the matter was taken up with Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) from where, Secretary, SDA vide letter No. SDA/VC/919 dated 22.06.2022 forwarded the authenticated copy of Government Order No. 363-JK(GAD) of 2022 dated 31.03.2022, whereby accused Farzana Naqshbandi was prematurely retired.
During the course of investigation questionnaire were served upon both the accused Kiran Wattal and Farzana Naqshbandi to explain their positions. However, in the reply submitted nothing substantial could be pleaded or explained by them. On the basis of the investigation conducted, the individual liability of accused public servants is explained as under.
Accused Kiran Wattal, was the then Municipal Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation, who, in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy hatched with STP Farzana Naqshbandi and beneficiaries Pardeep Kumar and Kuldeep Kumar, approved the building permission/plan by misusing and abusing his official position in favour of the beneficiaries, despite the fact that there were no NOCs issued by the AC (Revenue) and AC ( Nazool).
Being the Competent Authority he approved the building permission case intentionally and deliberately by ignoring the objections raised by the Revenue Authority, that too on his last day of posting as Commissioner, JMC merely in order to facilitate the beneficiaries. It has also been found that he approved the file with the remarks “Agreed if Permissible Under rule, but being the Sanctioning Authority and holding a responsible position, it was his bounden duty and responsibility to ascertain whether permission being granted by him, being a responsible officer was in accordance with the rules or not, as neither he was illiterate nor ignorant of the applicable laws. His illegal approval of the building permission not only amounted to abuse of his official position but also facilitated the beneficiaries to construct a Multi Storied commercial complex in the heart of the city, just few meters away from his office.
Accused Farzana Naqshbandi being the Senior Town Planner (STP) of JMC was duty bound to process the building permission case for the issuance of NOCs from different agencies/offices and then process/forwarded the building permission file of the beneficiaries Pardeep Kumar and Kuldeep Kumar, both sons of Shanti Parkash to the Commissioner JMC, Kiran Wattal with the clear recommendations, accordingly based on the NOCs and the reports of Inspecting Officer(Survey/Tech. Asst, JMC) and Building Officer, JMC. However, accused Farzana Naqshbandi being the Senior Town Planner (STP) and in league with the other accused persons committed grave omissions and commissions while recommending the building permission case of the beneficiaries as she did not point out/clarified the objections raised by AC(R) and AC(Nazool) and rather mentioned that NOCs are on the hard file/online. The investigation shows that despite having sufficient knowledge of the objections raised by AC (Revenue) and AC (Nazool) she deliberately and intentionally processed the file for accord of approval though she ought to have clarified and recommended in her processing note that in view of the unclear NOCs the building permission case was required to be rejected.
On overall consideration of all the evidence collected during the course of investigation, offence U/s 5(1) (d) r/w 5(2) of J&K P.C. Act Svt. 2006 and 120-B RPC have been established against Kiran Watal, son of Janki Nath Wattal, resident of H.No. 01, Gulmohar, Karan Nagar Jammu Farzana Naqshbandi wife of Farroq Nazir Naqshbandi, resident of H.No. 64 Green Avenue, Sector-A, Peer Bagh, Srinagar, Kuldeep Kumar, son of Shanti Parkash and Pardeep Kumar, son of Shanti Parkash both residents of H. No. 178, Ustad Mohalla, Jammu. Accused No. 01 and 02 have retired from Govt. services, as such, there is no requirement of obtaining prosecution sanction from the competent authority, whereas accused beneficiary No. 3 Kuldeep Kumar has expired on 11-05-2021, Therefore, charge sheet as envisaged under Section 173 Cr. PC is hereby produced against the accused persons named in column No 3 above with a prayer that all the accused persons may be put to trial except accused No. 3, in whose case the proceedings shall abate.