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HC forces PSUs to list VIP squatters

Ranchi, June 27: CBI and four public sector undertakings today submitted a list of high-profile individuals, including a deputy chief minister, MLAs and MPs in illegal possession of PSU quarters, prompting a Jharkhand High Court bench to ask managements to publish the list in newspapers and submit an action taken report by July 12.

The list, submitted to the bench comprising acting Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice P.P. Bhatt, by the CBI along with Central Coalfields Limited (CCL), Bokaro Steel Limited (BSL), Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) and Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC) included names of deputy chief minister Hemant Soren, cabinet minister Chandra Prakash Choudhary, leader of the Opposition Rajendra Prasad, MLAs, MPs, several former ministers and various leaders of political parties.

The list also names trade union leaders, senior police officers, bureaucrats, doctors, journalists and teachers.

The court directed the PSU managements to publish all the names in two local dailies with details of the quarters they were holding illegally within 10 days.

It also ordered the list of names to be sent to the Centre Union ministry of heavy industries, steel and coal for proper action. “Prompt action is required in the matter and mere writing letters will not solve the problem,” the bench noted.

While the CBI produced names of 148 people, CCL furnished 137 and BSL 19 names. Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) and Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC) furnished a list of eight unauthorised occupants each.

The court also questioned the PSUs’ “pick and choose” method of identifying illegal occupants.

“While the poor people are removed at once from their settlements within the campus of the PSUs, the influential persons are entangled in a court proceeding and allowed to obtain stay orders from superior courts and delay the encroachment drive. This appears to be a sheer abuse of the process of law,” the bench said.

The bench directed the four PSUs to remove encroachments and ensure that everyone was treated equally with no “special treatment” given to the dignitaries.

The next hearing is on July 12.

The court, however, offered some relief to Ramgarh deputy commissioner Ganesh Prasad, who is using a CCL quarters as his official residence in the absence of designated official accommodation in the district formed in 2008.

Prasad, who had refused to act on CCL notices to vacate, assured the court today that he would leave by December. The bench, however, allowed him time till 31 January, 2012 to vacate the quarters.

The court was hearing a PIL, initiated suo motu after taking note of media reports, on encroachments in PSUs HEC, BSL, CCL and BCCL. The CBI has told the court that that crores were being spent in maintaining residences and quarters in the illegal possession of several people, including the high and mighty.

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