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Court gives state last chance to reply on illegal redevelopment of Sahakar Bazaar

Under the RTI, the petitioners learnt that M/s SOS Developers was not a registered firm, the PIL stated.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Mumbai | Published: August 19, 2014 1:41:48 am

In a PIL demanding a probe into the alleged illegalities in the redevelopment of a state-run cooperative society building in Bandra (West), the Bombay High Court recently accorded the state government a final opportunity to file its reply.

According to the PIL, former deputy mayor Rajesh Sharma, who was then the chairman of Sahakar Bazaar, asked the BMC to declare the building dilapidated and handed over the redevelopment contract to an alleged unregistered

Jairam Naik, a senior citizen, and nine other members of the Sahakar Bazaar, who ran their business in the premises near the Bandra railway station, had moved the court alleging that although the building was in good condition, Sharma, then with the BJP, compelled the BMC to declare it dilapidated “due to his political influence.” Sharma later joined the Congress.

The members further alleged that the property in the plush suburb, believed to be worth hundreds of crores, was handed over to M/s SOS Developers for a consideration of Rs 2.75 crore, and a token amount of Rs 75 lakh was accepted by the managing committee of Sahakar Bazaar.

They said the redevelopment was processed without following the law. There were no tenders or advertisements issued by the managing committee of the cooperative that comes under the government’s cooperative department.

“Nobody complained about the building being in bad condition or the structure becoming weak. The managing committee still took the decision to redevelop the building. All the tenants were forcibly evicted without being given any transit accommodation,” said Naik.

Under the Right to Information Act, the petitioners learnt that M/s SOS Developers, that was awarded the redevelopment contract, was not a registered firm, the PIL stated.

Since November 2009, the members made several complaints to various government authorities, following which a number of inquiries were directed into the case.

On January 28, 2013, following an order of a metropolitan magistrate, a senior police inspector of the Bandra police station submitted an inquiry report. In the report, he held that “an offence has been committed by the accused persons (managing committee) under relevant sections of the IPC, including cheating and criminal trespass”.

The petitioners, however, sought a court direction to transfer the investigation to the state Criminal Investigation Department, alleging inaction on the part of other state authorities.

Naik’s lawyer Jagdish Reddy told the court that despite several hearings in the case, the state government had not filed its reply.
Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode said if the government did not file its reply, the court would decide the case on the basis of “uncontroverted averments” in the petition and adjourned the case till August 22.

PIL in HC urges action against state depts for failing to reimburse MSRTC

MUMBAI: A public interest litigation (PIL) has urged the Bombay High Court to issue directions for action against various state departments for failing to reimburse the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) to the tune of Rs 1,800 crore. The MSRTC, as a result, has decided to stop offering concessions to 72 lakh people, including students, differently abled, senior citizens and sportspersons.

The PIL filed by Datta Mane (33), a lawyer, said state departments — social justice, education, information and public relation, general administration, sports, women and child welfare, and public health and adivasi — had not paid the outstanding amount to the MSRTC.
Relying on a media report, the PIL, contended, “It appears that even though the departments concerned were provided with sufficient funds, which was required to be given to the MSRTC, they deliberately diverted the funds to some other department or misappropriated the funds.”

“If the concession given to nearly 72 lakh passengers is withdrawn or stopped, it will seriously affect them,” the PIL further said. It urged the HC to issue directions to all departments to pay the outstanding amount of Rs 1,800 crore and appoint a competent officer or committee to initiate inquiry against all the functionaries of the departments concerned. (ENS)

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