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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over the investigation into an alleged Rs. 126 crore scam in the acquisition of land in Uttar Pradesh Mathura for the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA). After 15 months of the scam, the state government recommended the CBI to investigate into the alleged irregularities.
CBI re-registered the Uttar Pradesh Police’s FIR that alleges that YEIDA had paid Rs 85.49 crore for 57.15 acre of land in seven villages in Mathura for development activities which would connect the 165 kms long expressway from Greater Noida to Agra.
The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of YIEDA, P.C. Gupta and 20 other were accused to be involved in this case. The police report states that the Gupta’s relatives had allegedly purchased land at cheaper rates through sham companies and also sold it more than twice their purchase price to YEIDA.
The scam: In brief
Yamuna expressway or Taj expressway is a 6 lane, 165 km long, access controlled expressway, connecting Greater Noida with Agra ,Uttar Pradesh. It is one of India’s longest expressways. The YEIDA scam was allegedly conducted by former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) P.C. Gupta and 20 accused were also involved in this scam.
Firstly, the case was registered at Kasna police station in Uttar Pradesh on 3rd June,2018 after an internal inquiry which was held and it was concluded that there were some allegations of financial irregularities. After sometime, police arrested the 2 accused Mr. Gupta and Datia who were involved in this case and they were being arrested at Madhya Pradesh and subsequently, the other accused were also arrested in this case. After the arrest of Mr. P.C Gupta the state later referred the case to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
According to the FIR, which was registered at Kasna police station the following are the people involved in this land scam, the YEIDA CEO, the local revenue official Suresh Chand Sharma, and the people from whom the land was bought by the authority for its project along with the Yamuna expressway.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over the investigation into an alleged of Rs.126-crore scam in the acquisition of land in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura for Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA).
It was also suggested that about 57 hectares of land was acquired in the seven villages of Mathura for Rs. 85.49 crores. According to the internal inquiry conducted, it was revealed that months ahead of the acquisition, the associates of relatives of YEIDA officials and the sham companies purchased the land from villagers either by their names or under the names of their relatives.
It has also been reported by the CBI officers that the land was acquired for YEIDA projects for two times more than the authorised and the original rates. The beneficiaries were residents of different cities, including Delhi, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Noida, Meerut and Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The FIR also mentions that one of them, Swadesh Gupta , was a relative of Mr. Gupta and just 0.97 hectares of land was bought from him for Rs. 1.62 crore.
Legal provisions applied in such cases:
The CBI is expected to conduct searches at the officials and residential premises of named accused. As per the sources, it has been in knowledge that all the accused will be called for questioning in this case. The lands were mostly purchased during 2013-2015 when the Samajwadi party was in power.
The FIR also alleged that the protocol which was needed to be followed, wasn’t followed and advertisements for acquisition were given in newspapers that did not have any circulation given. Advertisements inviting any objections were also neither mentioned nor published.
According to the procedure, the police alleged that Mr. P.C. Gupta and 20 other accused were involved in criminal conspiracy with the relatives of P.C. Gupta and associates who first purchased the land from farmers and later sold it to YEIDA within four to six months of their respective purchases.
According to the officials, it was stated that there was criminal conspiracy and fraud was done by the accused. The CBI has registered the case under charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Landmark case of such scam:
A landmark case – Manesar Industrial Model Township land grab scam case, Gurugram – In this case also, inquiry was done by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) just like the above mentioned YEIDA land scam. The CBI filed chargesheet against former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and 33 others for the Manesar Industrial Model Township land acquisition scam.
This scam resulted in Rs 1500 crore loss to the farmers of Manesar and neighbouring village in Gurugram district as 688 acres of land was being acquitted at a low rate for public purpose. This land was later licensed to real estate companies. Private builders grabbed 400 acre of land from farmers at a throwaway price based on threat and acquisition by the government.
The market value of 400 acre land was nearly Rs 4 crore per acre or total of Rs 1600 crore, which was acquired by the builders at only Rs 100 crore, which caused a loss of Rs 1500 crore to innocent farmer owners.
The Supreme court of India, cancelled this illegal acquisition and grant of land to the builders, returned the land to Haryana government and directed the government to recover each and every amount and also instructed the CBI to investigate it further. The CBI is currently investigating the case further. Hooda and 33 others have been charged in the special CBI court.
As we talk about public reaction we inevitably talk about the society, what the public thinks when they are deprived of their land fraudulently due to the acquisition of their land by the government for public purpose. What creates a negative reaction or fear amongst the public is the fact that official members are involved in such land scam cases. This restricts the public to even think about investing their money on any land or any building.
As we have seen so far, we can go through the Yamuna expressway case wherein, the villagers lost their land at such cheap prices and the accused got the profits out of it.
There are many more cases like the Manesar land scam and Hiranandani Powai land scam case, in which the farmers are totally deprived of their land and have to bear the loss by selling the lands in exchange of the amount which is very less from their Market Price of the land. Even though we are advancing with the technologies and innovations, there is also an increasing crime rate, for example, the land scams which are continuing to increase since the British raj.
In historical period also the kings take the land for the public utility and now the big companies and the government took the advantage of small farmers who had to give their land in coercion or threat. The most affected group from these land scams are the poor farmers.
Their opinions or their will to give their land should not be in the hands of corrupt yet powerful government officials and they should not be deceived to sell of their lands under coercion or threat.
As we are aware that in today’s world, the scenario has been changed and now the crimes related to corruption are increasing and this increased rate of corruption has led to disturbance of growth of country. To control these land scams and corruption crimes there should be strict laws and which should be more active towards the officials also.
As the Indian real estate sector is growing and so are the scams and frauds associated with it. Consumers now-a-days are more informed, but ironically are still susceptible to scams. So the consumers and even the farmers need to be more knowledgeable and alert when making decisions related to their lands so that they don’t sell their lands for lesser prices and get cheated on.
Mostly , it has been seen that in land scams the government officials are involved and they carry a huge profitable amount which often leads to farmers destructions by taking farmers land away which the farmers are totally dependable on.
Author: Poorva Arora from Delhi Metropolitan Education, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi.
Editor: Ojasvi Agarwal from Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat.