After being denied for long, RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya gets most of the information of Priyanka Gandhi land deal. Shimla district administration, in a written information to CBI clarified of no section 118 violation in the deal. However, RTI activist has blamed DC Shimla for covering the irregularities being committed by Priyanka Gandhi from the CBI.
Bhattacharya stated that under section 118 of the H.P. Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, the land can be allowed to be purchased only once for one purpose irrespective of the quantum of land purchased at first instance, and in this case Priyanka Gandhi was allowed to purchase 0-31-84 hectare of land in 2007 for the Residential and Horticulture purposes. Thereafter Priyanka Gandhi was again allowed to purchase the land twice for Horticulture purposes which is not allowed as per the rules.
He claimed that under section 118 the land for Horticulture purposes can be allowed to be purchased only in special cases when a board consisting of Horticulture Secretary, Horticulture Director and others are convinced that the person who is seeking the land for Horticulture purposes is an expert in Horticulture trade and is having an experience. He questioned that what kind of experience Priyanka Gandhi is having in Horticulture trade? And no such board was constituted to ascertain this fact, he claimed. Raising questions over the reply Bhattacharya said
“DC Shimla quoted the rule stating ” THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 118(2)(H) STIPULATES THAT THE NON AGRICULTURIST SHALL PUT THE LAND TO USE WITHIN A PERIOD OF 2 YEARS OR A FURTHER SUCH PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING ONE YEAR AS MAY BE ALLOWED BY THE GOVT. H.P.” The DC Shimla callously tried to cover the irregularity being committed by Priyanka Gandhi by saying-“THE APPLICANT HAD TAKEN STEPS TO PUT THE LAND TO USE FOR THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE PERMISSION WAS GRANTED IN HER FAVOUR WITHIN THE STIPULATED PERIOD, AS SUCH NO NOTICE WAS REQUIRED TO BE ISSUED TO PRIYANKA GANDHI.” The construction of the residence is yet not finished in 2017 whereas it was supposed to be completed by 2009 and at the most by 2010 with special permission. There was no horticulture activity too which took place by 2010 fot the land purchased in 2007. DOES DC SHIMLA MEAN TO SAY THAT IF A PERSON PURCHASES LAND UNDER SECTION 118 TO CONSTRUCT A HOUSE AND KEEPS ON TAKING STEPS TO PUT THE LAND TO USE FOR 50 YEARS THEN SHALL THE CONCERNED DC ALLOW THAT?”
Bhattacharya further raised question over the providing supporting file notings, he said
“If the main information has been made accessible to me then why the supporting file notings shall also not be provided”
He, however, made clear to approach court for to get the information about ‘supporting file notings’ if district administration failed to provide.