Two houses, a plush farmhouse and 5.5 hectare farm land — that is what an RTO clerk earning Rs 16,000 a month has acquired and now stands to lose after an anti-corruption court ordered the Madhya Pradesh government to seize them.
The properties will eventually be used for public good: for a school or an anganwadi centre for instance, as mandated by the Madhya Pradesh Special Courts Act, an ambitious legislation notified in February 2012 and modelled on a similar law in Bihar.
Raman Dhuldhoye, a grade III clerk from Indore, was raided by the Economic Offences Wing on December 18, 2011 and found to possess illegal assets — besides the houses and the land, gold and silver jewellery, several cars and two-wheelers — worth about Rs seven crore. He had built his farmhouse on the agriculture land at Morod village, not far from Indore.
Dhuldhoye was charged in the court of Special Sessions judge Avanindra Singh, who, after being satisfied that the assets were disproportionate to his known sources of income, ordered the collector to seize them within a month.
The Madhya Pradesh Special Courts Act empowers the government to use force if the accused don’t vacate the illegal property. But, on the other hand, it allows the accused to retain possession if they pay the state its market price.
In Dhuldhoye’s case, if he is convicted by the trial court — the state has set up two courts each in Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior and Jabalpur as mandated by the Act; one decides on confiscation of illegal property, the other conducts the trial — his assets will remain confiscated. But if acquitted, they will be returned to him.