Pilot had gone on a day-long fast in Jaipur to seek action against alleged graft in the previous BJP rule in Rajasthan.
NEW DELHI: The Rajasthan High Court and the Supreme Court had found no proof of corruption in the matter of allocation of mines in Rajasthan by the Vasundhara Raje government in December 2014. These are the same allotments that Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot is using to target Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Pilot had gone on a day-long fast in Jaipur on 11 April to demand action against corruption during the previous BJP rule in Rajasthan. He had claimed that the present Gehlot government was not taking action against former CM Raje for the alleged corruption that took place under her rule while allocating cement and lime stone mines.
However, it has emerged that these alleged corruption matters were found to be de-voided of substance by the courts. Significantly, the said mining licences were cancelled within nine months of being allotted by the Raje government despite the High Court stating that no wrong was done while allocating the same.
The genesis of the allegations of inaction on this alleged corruption rose roughly 12 years ago when the state government in October 2010 invited applications for allotment of cement and limestone mines in Jaisalmer and Chhittorgarh districts. At that time, Gehlot was the CM.
Till November 2013, no decision was made on who would get the mining lease due to opposition from multiple quarters on primarily one issue—whether the mine should be allotted through bidding process or it should be allotted to those entities who had got a “reconnaissance permission” and hence had a preferential rights over the mines under section 11 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR act).
In November 2013, the Gehlot government lost power and Raje was sworn in as the next CM. Later, in December 2014, the Raje government allotted these mines under the rules specified under MMDR act which was then challenged in the Rajasthan High Court in April 2015 by Ram Singh Kaswan, a veteran Congress leader who is currently the in-charge of the party’s office in Jaipur. Kaswan, in his petition alleged that the Raje government had in an illegal manner allotted these mines which had caused a loss of Rs 2000 crore to the state government as well as the Central government. In its judgment in May 2015, the Rajasthan High Court dismissed Kaswan’s petition while stating that it found no evidence to show that rules were not followed while allocating the mines. A petition challenging this High Court order was then filed by Kaswan in the Supreme Court which also dismissed the case in November 2017 stating no corruption was done.
Amidst all these legal developments, the Raje government in October 2015 cancelled the allotment done to 601 of the total 653 mines. Kaswan, while speaking to The Sunday Guardian, stated the revival of corruption in the mines allotment issue by Pilot was “irrelevant”. He also questioned the intent behind Pilot raising this issue now when earlier he had refused to become a part of it.
“Both the High Court and then the Supreme Court found that no irregularities had taken place during allotment. Moreover, the lease was cancelled by the BJP government in October 2015. So, I don’t know why Pilot is talking about a non-existent corruption issue. Moreover, Pilot was at that time the chief of Pradesh Congress Committee which he was appointed in January 2014. Prior to filing the case, I had gone to him and requested him to come with me and file the case. He had the resources to engage best lawyers and hence I wanted him to be a part of this whole issue. However, Pilot told me that his and Raje family were very close and if he even speaks a word against Raje, she gets angry and hence he cannot become a part of this case. He asked me to file the case on my own which I did,” Kaswan said. According to Kaswan, Pilot had not done his “homework” properly or else he would not have raised this “non-issue”.