Thursday, January 9, 2014

CM quota flats: HC warns state govt of contempt

The Bombay High Court Monday warned the state government of contempt proceedings if it failed to comply with its to submit a list of double allottees under the chief minister's discretionary housing quota.

The court observed the government had already taken several months to disclose the names of double allottees and sought compliance of its April 2012 order by December 6.

A division bench of Justice A S Oka and S C Gupte remarked, "You (state government) are supposed to submit a list and there's nothing secret about it. If the list is ready, show us the list."

Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar, the court had directed the government to submit a list of all double or multiple allotments of flats under the chief minister's discretionary quota.

Additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai informed the court that the state was ready with the list of allottees under the scheme, but could not disclose the names to the petitioner (Tirodkar). She added that the state government would file an affidavit regarding its stand.

Dissatisfied with the state government's approach, the court said it wanted compliance. "You have to comply with the order, failing which we will issue a contempt notice."

"You required so many months to comply? You must comply with the order by Friday," the court said.

Another petition filed by senior citizen Manohar Bait (66) claimed he had been eligible for allotment of a flat under the CM's quota since 1989, but his name remained on the waiting list of allottees over the decades. His lawyer Uday Warunjikar informed the court that as per Right To Information replies collected by Bait, most beneficiaries are either related to an MLA or MP or are political heavyweights.

The High Court will hear Bait's petition along with Tirodkar's PIL on Monday next.

Tirodkar, who had filed an RTI application seeking the information, said he had received the names of allottees from 1989 to 2010 but no details were furnished of those who had received more than one allotments.

In his PIL, Tirodkar stated that Public Works Department Minister Chhagan Bhujbal was allotted a 825-sq ft tenement in Pune in 1992 under the MLA quota, his nephew Sameer Bhujbal was awarded a 1,040-sq ft tenement in Sangamwadi, Pune, under the "intense need for space" quota that comprises 3.10 per cent of the 10 per cent discretionary quota of the CM.

Others named in Tirodkar's PIL include Pratap Pawar, brother of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Bhagvati Sharma, mother-in-law of former CM Ashok Chavan who was allotted a 800 sq m flat in Powai, son and daughter of BJP leader Prakash Jawdekar who were allotted separate flats in Mumbai, Tushar Khadse, son of Opposition leader Eknath Khadse, and Abid Hasan Mushrif, son of NCP leader Hasan Mushrif.

Names in PIL
*Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of Chhagan Bhujbal
* Pratap Pawar, brother of Sharad Pawar
* Bhagvati Sharma, mother-in-law of Ashok Chavan
* Son, daughter of Prakash Jawdekar
* Tushar Khadse, son of Eknath Khadse
* Abid Hasan Mushrif, son of Hasan Mushrif
Tue Dec 03 2013, 00:12 hrs

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