Justice Jha Commission Case: Jabalpur HC seeks full assistance of Chief Secretary

A Special Bench of Justice Shri K K Lahoti and Justice Shri Ajit Singh issued directions to the Chief Secretary of the Government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP) to personally ensure full assistance to the Court on all issues pertaining to the Justice Jha Commission of Inquiry which has been investigating into the massive corruption of a few hundred crore rupees in the rehabilitation of the Sardar Sarovar Project affected oustees. Read more

Alternatively, the Chief Secretary was directed to appoint a competent officer not below the rank of a Secretary who should be duly instructed to assist the Court in sorting out all the problems with regard to the Commission’s functioning and also be in a position to make a statement on behalf of GoMP and also be being present before this Court.

The Court was a hearing a letter dated 20th August 2010 sent by the Secretary of the Commission seeking full co-operation from the GoMP and more staff for effective functioning. In its letter, the Commission had brought to the Court’s notice the ongoing gigantic task of examining 8,000 witnesses, sellers, purchasers etc. in the fake registrations cases and also technical investigation into the quality of civic amenities at 88 R&R Sites. The Commission has sought a further term-extension of at least one year to complete these and other enormous tasks of inquiring into various aspects of corruption as per the two orders of the High Court Orders dated 21-08-2008 and 12-11-2009.

It may be noted that the same Bench had earlier issued a Show Cause Notice to the state government in May 2010, warning it of strict action if compliance with all the earlier orders to provide funds and facilities to the Jha Commission is not ensured by 24th June. It required such strong orders for GoMP to designate the High Court’s Registrar as the Budget Controlling Officer and disburse the requisitioned funds.

Pleading for the petitioner, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar reminded the Hon'ble Court of the magnitude of corruption and the need for a full-fledged Special Investigation team of police, revenue and PWD officials, additional members and secretarial staff to carry on the Commission’s work unhindered.

The case has been listed for further consideration on the 1st October to decide on the issue of extension of the Commission’s term which is to expire by October 8th and also for hearing a series of applications filed by NBA, responding to the contentions of the GoMP and NVDA and also seeking directions to the Jha Commission to file an Interim Progress Report.

Taking serious cognizance of the fact that no lawyer representing the central monitoring agency, Narmada Control Authority was present in the Court today, the Court issued directions to the Registry to ensure adequate representation of NCA on the next date of hearing. The Court also directed all the parties to file their replies to NBA’s applications by the next date of hearing.

Significantly, the Court observed that the NVDA being a separate entity cannot file a reply on behalf of the Madhya Pradesh Government and a separate response from the GoMP is expected.

In another pending matter, wherein some displaced persons sought the intervention of the Hon’ble Court to direct the Jha Commission to permit disbursal the second instalment of the cash-based Special Rehabilitation Package, the Court disposed off the matter with a direction to Justice Jha Commission of Inquiry to fully investigate into their land registries, after giving NBA a due opportunity of being heard and then decide the matter in accordance with law.

The timing of the directions to the Chief Secretary comes at a crucial time when the on the one hand, Jha Commission is recording the evidences in hundreds of cases of fake land registries which is clearly bringing out the nexus between the officials and touts and on the other NVDA is making insidious attempts to exclude discussion on the entire issue of corruption itself from the agenda of the R&R Sub-Group of NCA.

The expose will have to continue and the Andolan will pursue the matter to prove how whole process of rehabilitation has derailed due to the corruption and irregularities, thereby justifying a speedy, effective and independent investigation by the Commission.

Kamla Yadav                     Devram Kanera           Bhagirath Kavche