GUWAHATI, Oct 8 - Land grabbers are allegedly having a field day in Guwahati, as the administration has been made to turn a blind eye by a nexus of some powerful police and revenue officials and some legal practitioners towards cases of land grabbing. The land grabbers also allegedly have the patronage of some powerful politicians. This practice is, unfortunately, continuing under the very nose of a government that boasts of 'zero tolerance towards corruption'.
This has come to light when the Assam Information Commission examined a case of land grabbing in the city (Case Number DBR 7/2018) in response to an appeal made by P Bezbaruah.
In this connection, the office of the Commissioner of Police, Guwahati told the Information Commission in a written statement dated July 18, 2018, that since the Assam Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2010 came into force, the total number of land grabbing cases reported in different police stations of Guwahati was 969.
Of these cases, 853 were registered with the police stations and 439 of them were under investigation till July 18, 2018.
Significantly, none of the 969 cases was referred to the Special Tribunal set up under the above mentioned legislation, said the office of the Commissioner of Police.
The Information Commission observed that it has, therefore, become clear that 116 cases of land grabbing reported to the police stations were not registered. Of the 853 registered cases, 414 seemed to have been disposed of at the level of the police stations, without any reference being made to the Special Tribunal, as is evident from the July 18, 2018 police statement.
The Commission has brought this information and observations to the notice of the Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary (Home Department), Director General of Police and Guwahati Police Commissionerate so that they may look into the matter and take necessary corrective steps.
It needs mention here that Section 7 of the Assam Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2010, has provided that Special Tribunals would conduct inquiries "into the alleged act of land grabbing and trial of cases in respect of ownership and title to or lawful possession of the land grabbed".
"The court of the District and Sessions Judge having jurisdiction over the area shall be the Special Tribunal for the purpose of this Act and shall include Additional District and Sessions Judge having jurisdiction over the area," says the above section of the legislation.
Despite having such a clear legal mandate, police stations in Guwahati seemed to have disposed of 414 cases on their own, which seems to be a strange thing. The police stations have also not bothered to refer any of the 969 cases to the Tribunal, though all these cases required to be referred. This is very alarming, experts said.
The very purpose of the Assam Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2010, has thus been defeated. This legislation was enacted with the purpose of 'curbing' the "organised attempts on the part of certain lawless persons operating individually and in groups to grab, either by force or by deceitful means or otherwise, lands whether belonging to the government, a Public Sector Undertaking, a local authority, a religious or charitable institution or endowment, including a Wakf or any other private persons or a site of historical monuments etc."
The Act declared land grabbing in any form as unlawful and any act connected with or arising out of land grabbing as a cognizable offence under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and punishable under it.