A day after the Calcutta High Court upheld an order cancelling plots at Rajarhat New Town to 61 petitioners — allotted by CPM leader Gautam Deb when he was the West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) chairman — then housing minister in the Left regime on Thursday admitted he had used his discretionary powers to allot the plots.
“Just like a judge has his discretion, the Speaker at the Assembly or Parliament has his discretion, I had also used my discretionary power at that time, being the housing minister and chairman of HIDCO. It was done in accordance with Supreme Court’s instructions, which allows a 5 per cent chairman quota that can be used according to his discretion subject to the approval of a sub-committee,” he told mediapersons.
While before he become the HIDCO chairman, the chairman’s quota was 10 per cent, later he, going by SC guidelines, brought it down to 5 per cent, he added.
Deb said that between 2003 and 2010, he had signed 105 land registry deeds which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had initially opposed but after Trinamool Congress came to power, she herself — between 2011 and 2014 — had signed 147 such deeds.
“The court has asked for a complete list of recipients. I am also waiting for the list. Many IAS and IPS officers occupying high posts of the current government will be named in the list. I have also allotted plots to several judges,” Deb said.
Alleging that Mamata has become desperate to put him behind bars and it is necessary to initiate a movement to topple the current government, he said: “We have a meeting coming up in which we will decide what the roadmap will be. But one thing is sure, there will be some violence in the process.”
On the allegation that he had signed the deeds a day before Assembly polls were announced in 2011, Deb said: “Will the election commissioner consult me before issuing poll notification and tell me to go ahead with whatever projects I have a day before polls are announced? Many other ministers had signed several files that day. Will all of them be held responsible?”
High Court lawyer Arunava Ghosh, who is defending Deb, said there were no immediate plans to move the division bench. “There are 61 petitioners and we are waiting for the names of beneficiaries to come out. I have documents that show people close to Mamata Banerjee — noted singers and senior IPS officers — were allotted plots at that time,” he added.
When contacted, State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim rubbished Deb’s claims, saying: “No plots have been allotted by the new government because after the Trinamool government came to power, the post of HIDCO chairman was done away with.”