The Telegraph
Monday , March 10 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Meet Scam-jeevani’s backroom boys

- Mid-level government babus on realty payroll, claims CBI probe

From March 1, the CBI started to probe five high-worth cases among 34 registered cases related to Sanjeevani Buildcon Private Limited’s fraud home and land deals, Jharkhand’s biggest realty scam worth over Rs 100 crore that duped over 300 investors of their savings of a lifetime.

To piece together the jigsaw puzzles, the CBI is probing into the involvement of land officials, allegedly on Sanjeevani payroll, who helped the company fudge land documents.

The CBI took up the probe of all 34 cases against the company after Jharkhand High Court in January last year directed it while disposing a PIL filed by one of the hundreds of victims Sima Devi.

The focus is on the mid-level bureaucrats, allegedly the scam’s backroom boys. The CBI apparently has a diary with names of officials on Sanjeevani’s payroll.

High-profile players — Sanjeevani MD and mastermind Jayant Dayal Nandi, his two glamorous wives Anita and Anamika and aides Prakash Prasad Lala, Shyam Kishore Gupta, Arvind Kumar Singh, Sunil Kumar Lal, Ramesh Kumar Singh, Tapan Paul, Ashok Kumar, Neeraj Kumar, Ram Pratap Verma and Md Moin Ansari — are accounted for.

Except Nandi, who is hiding abroad, and his trusted bouncer Verma, who is out on bail, all the rest are under arrest.

A revenue official currently under CBI scanner is one Sahdev Mehra, then Ranchi land sub-registrar when the massive reality scam unravelled in April 2012. CBI sleuths claim Mehra, on Sanjeevani payroll, also got Maruti car (XX 4) in 2011 as a “gift” for giving Nandi actual land deeds.

This car proved unlucky. On January 2, 2011, it met with an accident in Ramgarh, killing his wife Kiran, son Nishant and driver Srinarayan Yadav on the spot, when they were on their way to Deoghar.

When the bodies were brought to Apollo hospitals in Ranchi and then at Mehra’s home, one of Sanjeevani’s directors Gupta was present to console the man.

According to the CBI, one Praveen Kumar purchased the car and Sanjeevani Buildcon Private Limited was the address given.

“It is beyond doubt Mehra had accepted the car as a bribe. He served as land sub-registrar for a long period in Ranchi. The vehicle was not registered. We are looking for the person, real or fictitious, on whose name it was bought,” said a CBI official.

One-time personal secretary of current minister Annapurna Devi and now posted in Dhanbad as sub-registrar, Mehra denied the charges.

“I was not connected with any person of Sanjeevani,” he told The Telegraph last week.

“As sub-registrar I acted according to laws. Verifying land authenticity is the onus of the seller and owner; the registrar has no role or jurisdiction. In no way did I favour anybody. About the car in question, I am not aware who gave the car to my son. Just because my family members used a car it can’t be proved that I owned it,” he added.

But the CBI became certain of Mehra’s involvement on grilling O.P. Yadav and Krishna Kumar, circle officers of Ratu and Nagri blocks, respectively, from where a good number of frauds were reported. “During investigation, the role of Mehra and many officials surfaced,” said CBI joint director A.K. Singh.

“A bulk of land that Sanjeevani managed to register on the company’s name was via fictitious owners, false deeds and the like. Mehra helped the company. Sanjeevani bosses called him at their office or home to complete the land registry process,” an official said.

But bringing Mehra to book would be tough. He has immunity under Bihar Land Revenue Law provisions, which Jharkhand follows.

As he well knows, officially he is merely responsible to ensure his state gets stamp duty against sale and purchase of land and not for looking into authenticity or ownership of any plot in question.

In 2010, much before the scam’s outbreak, then Ranchi DC K.K. Soan sent two detailed notes to Mehra and Ranchi circle officers to be “careful” in dealing while dealing with land registry, ownership transfer and mutation. But Mehra did not act on this warning.

Brouhaha broke out over Sanjeevani in April 2012, when hundreds of buyers discovered sham documents, the same plot sold thrice over, and other damming details.

As victims lodged cases in various Ranchi police stations, complaints were clubbed together, bringing the number of cases to 34.

The then Arjun Munda government notified five major cases for the CBI to probe. Then state home secretary J.B. Tubid in a letter dated September 12, 2012 (No. 4417), wrote to the CBI director, recommending the agency cases 109/12 (Jagannathpur PS), 60/12 (Ormanjhi), 40/12 (Pithoria), 126 /12 (Lower Bazar) and 80/12 (Namkum).

The state home department had specifically requested a probe into the role of government and police officials who helped scamsters. The letter explicitly stated there were “indications that administrative and police officers had protected and patronised this scam”.

Will the cheated home buyers ever get justice?Tell