Monday, August 11, 2014

NAPM - M.P. High Court threatens to ‘proceed against’ officers of Govt. of MP for non-provision of full-time officers to Justice Jha Commission of Inquiry; Gujarat’s petition to intervene in M.P. Corruption case dismissed

In yet another significant order, the Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court (Jabalpur Principal Seat) Shri A. M. Khanwilkar and Hon’ble Justice K.K. Trivedi yesterday directed that, if the Justice Jha Commission, appointed by the Court in 2008, to inquire into the corruption in the rehabilitation of the Sardar Sarovar Project affected families reports to the Court that the “StateGovernment has failed to provide suitable assistance of Police Officers, Revenue Officers and PWD Engineers to the Commission, the “Court may consider issuing appropriate directions including to consider the option of proceeding against the competent Authorities who have failed to comply with the directions issued by this Court repeatedly since 2008 in that behalf”.

The Court issued notice to the Secretary of the Commission to appear before it in person on 5thSeptember, 2014 and report the factual position with regard to the non-appointment of the Revenue Officers, Police Officers and PWD Engineers to assist the Commission. Taking serious note of the vacant posts, the Court also directed the State Government to fill in the vacant post of Accountant (vacant since March, 2014) within one week and two posts of LDC and three posts of peon within two weeks and report back compliance. The Secretary was also directed to submit response and explain as to why an interim report on the issues of fake registries and irregularities in resettlement sites (as per Order dated 21-08-2008) cannot be made available to the Court.

This order assumes significance in the light of the fact that the High Court had on numerous occasions in the past been issuing stern orders to the state government to provide full-time officers, staff, finances and other facilities to the Commission to be able to effectively carry out the herculean task of inquiry into thousands of land registries alleged to be fake, examination of thousands of witnesses, assessment of the resettlement sites, disbursement of livelihood grants, inquiry into irregularities in the house plot allotments, declaration of oustees, scrutiny of thousands of cases pertaining to cash disbursement etc.

It may also be noted that the Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed and strengthened the power of the High Court and Justice Jha Commission to proceed on the corruption issue. The latest order of the Apex Court dated 4-8-2014 emphasized that the W.P. on corruption can continue in accordance with law before the High Court although the issue of dam height would have to be agitated before the Supreme Court. This order of the Apex Court was in the light of the petition filed by the Narmada Control Authority to transfer the entire petition on corruption, being heard by the High Court for 7 years to the Supreme Court. This was however turned down by the Apex court.

The High Court also issued notices to the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) and NCA in another application filed by NBA with regard to the violation of Order dated 11-05-2009 of the Apex Court and Order dated 18-07-2013 of the High Court in W.P. No. 18623/2013 requiring mandatory scrutiny by the Jst. Jha Commission of all cases of disbursement of cash compensation to the oustees. The Commission has complained to the Court in its latest report of 1st July, 2014 that the NVDA has taken back files for scrutiny from the Commission my referring to certain other orders.  The High Court also rejected the application of SSNNL, a company of the Govt. of Gujarat to intervene in the ongoing corruption PIL, since the issue of raise in dam height is to be agitated before the Supreme Court.

Medha Patkar, argued on behalf of Petitioner Narmada Bachao Andolan. Adv Syed Naqvi and Adv. Dharmendra Sharma, Counsels appeared for the NCA. Advocate General Shri R.N. Singh along with Arpan Pawar appeared for the state government and NVDA.

Contact for details:  Meera @ 09179148973