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Srinagar, Feb 17: Jammu and Kashmir High Court (HC) has listed a case against Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad filed by a suspended forest officer following allegation and counter allegation by petitioner's counsel and state advocate general.

Hearing the case for about four-hours, the single bench of the High Court comprising Justice Hakeem Imtiyaz said the case may be listed for hearing again after two weeks.

When the case came up for hearing, former General Manager State Forest Corporation, Ghulam Hassan Marazi's counsel Mohammad Yousuf Bhat sought to know why the case was transferred to Justice Hakeem's court when it was first heard by a single bench comprising Justice Bashir Ahmad Kirmani.

But when the Court informed Mr Bhat that the case was assigned to the this court on the instructions of the Chief Justice of the State, he said he has no objection and would argue the case in any Court.

Mr Bhat alleged that his client was attached with the general administration department and suspended from service after he refused to accept the ''unfair'' demands of the brothers of Chief Minister.

He alleged that the Chief Minister had mala fide intentions in attaching Marazi and constituting the Kundal committee to benefit his brothers.

Mr Bhat sought directions from the Court that the grounds on which the Chief Minister ordered the attachment of the official should be presented before the Court.

He alleged that Ghulam Mustafa Bhat and Sajjad Ahmad Bhat, brothers of the Chief Minister, had made a representation before the State Forest Corporation (SFC) that marking of trees in certain compartments should be done and then the work be allotted to them with 100 per cent raise without any tendering process.

However, the Managing Director of SFC forwarded the letter to his client who rejected the application on the basis of illegalities.

Arguing further the counsel claimed that Chief Minister on a representation of contractors association of Doda directed Commissioner Secretary, Forest to discuss the matter with him at the earliest.

However, Marazi in his draft letter pointed out that 33 lakh cft in Doda region were held by the contractors, including Abdul Majid Wani, MLA Doda (14 lakh cfts), 2.53 lakh cft with Ghulam Mustafa Bhat and 1.8 lakh cft with Muhammad Yaseen Wani.

The draft prepared by Marazi opposed revision of rates and he had issued tenders for new works. He alleged that Marazi's draft and tendering process went against the interests of the Chief Minister and he at once attached him with GAD and ordered an inquiry into artificial scarcity of timber and irregularities in the Forest department.

He argued that after Kundal committee submitted its report rates were revised as demanded by the contractors and it proved his contention.

About the import of timber, the counsel argued that on August 1, 2006 government ordered that global tenders be invited for import of the timber. The tenders submitted were forwarded to the Government which, on January 18, 2007, instead constituted a committee to assess whether Government should go for global tendering or not. The Committee directed that 3 lakh cft of timber should be imported from source on trial basis without any middleman, counsel said.

The report of the committee was forwarded to the SFC, which sent it to the government and since then the matter was pending before the cabinet.

Mr Bhat asked why the Kundal report mentioned that efforts were made by Marazi and Ejaz Ahmad Bhat, the then MD, to import the timber. He sought to know how come Kundal report has mentioned that a company, which had submitted tender for import of timber, was said to be patronized by Marazi.

He said the Chief Minister had made up his mind to punish Marazi and pleaded that both his writ petitions be admitted.

Advocate general, Altaf Naik, described the charges of having ''mala fide intentions'' against the Chief Minister as outrageous.

Mr Naik said even for argument's sake, if Ghulam Mustafa Bhat files a representation before the Chief Minister, has he no right to do so as citizen of the state.

However, he informed the court that the representation was filed by the contractors of Doda and as a routine matter it came up before the Chief Minister who marked it to the department concerned.

''Simply writing a note to the Commissioner Secretary Forest does not mean favouring any person,'' he said adding Mr Azad did not pass any order on it and instead forwarded the representation to the department concerned as was being routinely done in other cases also.

He said the petitioner has various cases against him filed by vigilance.

He said the then Forest Commissioner had prepared a report about forest fires and destruction of forests in district Doda.

The Advocate General said the Chief Minister ordered an inquiry into the nexus between the smugglers and the officials of SFC in Doda district.

He said the case has no merit and it should have been rejected at first place.


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