Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pawar under Bombay HC scanner - Land allot

There might be more trouble for NCP chief and Union minister Sharad Pawar. The Bombay high court on Tuesday asked the state how it could have given land meant for cattle grazing to an educational trust headed by Pawar.

The HC had issued notice to the state government after a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a farmer Jyotiram Jadhav questioned the government's decision to allot land reserved for cattle-grazing in a village near Baramati in Pune district to an educational trust Vidya Prathisthan headed by Pawar.

Assistant government Molina thakur had filed an affidavit on Tuesday justifying the allotment. The state said it had relied on a circular of 1983 which permits the state to give land to educational institutes, dispensaries or any other philanthropic use.

But the HC said, after observing that the Supreme Court has held that cattle land must be secured too, how a cattle feeding ground could be given. Such land cannot be allotted for any other use, the bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka said.

Thakur said the allotment was made in 2006-07 and the school has already come up and was functioning. She said she would have to verify whether the allotment was made before the SC ruling or after. The counsel for Sharad Pawar said he would like to go through the state's affidavit and also make its submission.

The PIL alleged that no rules were followed by the state and the collector in Oune district as no auction was held. The collector has now power to allot land valued over Rs 2.5 lakh. It said the land measuring over two hectare in a village Waghalwadi was allotted in 2009. Pawar is one of the respondents to the PIL as chairperson of the trust.

"If you want to allot the land then you must adopt transparent and fair means, otherwise people would not know whether the land is available for allotment," the bench said.

The high court adjourned the hearing to June 23.

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