AGRA: The Supreme Court has issued notice to the government of India, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and headquarters of Army’s Central Command seeking their response in the alleged defence property scam in Agra.
According to the petitioner and local RTI activist Bir Bahadur Singh, CBI even after four and a half years of delay has not been able to complete investigation in the case which involved a Rs 20 crore defence property illegally acquired by Agra cantonment board vice-president in 1996 in connivance with the defence estate officials.
The activist who is also an ex-serviceman has been pursuing the matter since 2011. On basis of response to RTI queries filled by the activist, in 2012, four members of Parliament, including the then minister of state for human resource development Ramshankar Katheria and incumbent Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, had recommended a CBI probe into the defence property scam.
According to the defence estate records, 1.36 acres of defence land was given on lease to one Mitthan Lal for 30 years on March 2, 1936. After Lal’s death, the property was transferred to his wife Anara Devi. In 1966, the lease of the property was extended for another 30 years. On July 7, 1972, Anara Devi died. Mitthan Lal and Anara Devi had no son or daughter.
According to the petitioner, taking advantage of the situation, two women, Prakash Singh and Kalawati Devi, claiming to be relatives of Mitthan Lal and Anara Devi came forward to take hold of the property. Later, the high court found papers provided by the two women to be fake. The quarter was taken back by the defence estate department.
According to the petitioner, in 1984, one KS Bhatnagar, son of Kalawati Devi, got the property transferred in his name from defence estate. In the entire process, no approval was taken from the defence ministry.
According to the petitioner, incumbent Agra cantonment board vice-president Pankaj Mahendru in conveyance with the defence estate officials got the property transferred from Kalawati’s son to Mohammad Nasim and Raisuddin in 1996. Later, he on basis of fake documents got the property registered in his name, the petitioner alleged.
Petitioner Bir Bahadur Singh said, “It is surprising that the CBI has not been able to come to any conclusion in the case. Now, after the court notice, they will have to submit the probe report. The ministry of defence should immediately attach the property. Besides, FIR should be registered against all those involved in the scam.”
When contacted, ACB vice-president Pankaj Mahendru said, “The allegations are completely baseless and politically motivated. I have all the valid documents related to the property. The property was transferred to me after approval from the ministry of defence. Later, the lease was also extended.”
Mahendru has been the vice-president of ACB since 1998. His father, OP Mahendru, held the same post for around 25 years till 1991.


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