The Mumbai police has booked former Maharashtra chief minster Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar in a case of cheating and criminal breach of trust. According to Kherwadi police, an FIR, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, was registered against Nilangekar on February 28. The FIR accuses Nilangekar of allegedly defrauding the Marathwada Mitra Mandal Trust, a registered public charitable trust, over a 11,000 square metre plot of prime land in Mumbai’s Bandra.
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Nilangekar has been at the helm of the trust since 1983. Dr Mohan Deshmukh, the trust’s secretary and the complainant in the case, has accused the him of fraudulently entering into land deals with two construction firms to parcel out 62 per cent of the built-up area of the Bandra plot.
The FIR also accused Nilangekar and the two construction firms of cheating the trust of Rs 5.6 crore.
The trust, which was founded by another former chief minister, late Shankarrao Chavan, was originally leased the 11,000 square metre plot, partly reserved for a police station and staff quarters, opposite the Bandra collector’s office in 1981 at Rs 1 per sq m for a hostel and a community centre.
In 2009, the trust obtained permission to change the intended use of the plot to ‘Engineering and Management College’ on occupancy basis after paying a revised rate of Rs 11.83 crore. But 35 years later, the plot is still vacant.
The FIR states that Nilangekar had kept other office bearers of the public trust in the dark and entered into a development rights MoU with one of the accused construction firms on September 26, 2009.
Deshmukh has contended that prior permission wasn’t obtained from the charity commissioner’s office, permission which is mandatory. A year later, Nilangekar, as the trust’s chairman, and the construction firm jointly executed a second MoU involving a development rights pact with another construction firm. “Nilangekar has retained all books, accounts, and documents concerning the trust. His home in Worli is the trust’s makeshift office. We weren’t aware about the deal worked out between him and the construction firms till 2015,” said Deshmukh. The FIR also accuses Nilangekar of allegedly siphoning off funds meant for the trust.
The plot’s development potential is estimated at 3.98 lakh square feet. Deshmukh’s FIR alleges that Nilangekar had parceled off 3.69 lakh square feet land to the two firms, leaving only 29,267 square feet for the trust. “We want to develop the piece of land for its intended purpose. It must be used for an engineering and management college to benefit children from Marathwada who come to Mumbai for pursuing higher education,” said Deshmukh.
The police lodged the FIR following an order of the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a criminal writ petition in this respect.