A week after the state government initiated the process of repossessing plots allotted to a trust promoted by Union minister Rajiv Shukla’s family, allegedly at throwaway prices, the Bombay High Court Thursday sought information regarding the status of the disputed lands from the state government.
While hearing a PIL filed by NGO Save Open Spaces (SOS), the court was informed that BAG Films Education Society (BFES), while Shukla was its secretary, made a bogus declaration of a joint venture with RIMS International School to be eligible for allotment of land reserved for a primary school and a playground. SOS sought cancellation of the allotment of the plots of land — measuring 2,821 sq m and 3,534 sq m respectively — in Ambivali, Andheri, which were reserved for a primary municipal school and a playground.
“The state government and its ministers, government department, statutory corporation and its officers have acted in an arbitrary and mala fide manner and the chief minister has exercised his discretionary powers in an illegal and unfair manner to allot land reserved for public purpose to a private party to favour Rajiv Shukla,” the PIL stated.
The land was given to the society for building an international school six years ago. The NGO’s convener Ashoke Pandit said in the PIL that the plot was given to the society in 2008 for Rs 1 lakh, the rate prevalent in 1976. The adjacent land reserved for the playground was given on lease for 15 years for an annual rent of Rs 6,309, said the PIL.
Months after the allotment was made in December 2008, BFES, chaired by Shukla’s wife Anuradha Prasad, entered into a joint venture with RIMS International, a management education institute which also runs schools offering IGSCE and IB courses. The “trust deed” submitted to the state government, BFES, however, stated that the trust could engage in primary and secondary education, higher and technical education, and even professional and vocational training.
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The PIL has sought cancellation of the allotment, orders to the state government to take possession of the plot and an inquiry against officials involved in handling the files and a criminal complaint against BFES.
The court has sought information about the status of the lands by February 24.