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Date set for hearing on multiple land scams

Various land scams that rocked Pune — in Maval,Mulshi and Shirur — over the past five years or so will finally come up for hearing on March 19...

Various land scams that rocked Pune — in Maval,Mulshi and Shirur — over the past five years or so will finally come up for hearing on March 19 as part of hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city-based advocate Dinesh Gonjare. A division bench of the Bombay High Court,comprising Chief Justice Swanteentra Kumar and DY Chandrachud,on Thursday ordered the Pune district collector and Pune police commissioner to be present with relevant documents for the hearing.

The PIL contends that since agricultural land can only be sold to an agriculturalist,the land mafia has devised a way around it through “development agreements”,by which owners surrender all rights,except ownership,to developers.

The litigation was filed on April 10 and copies were served to the respondents through the district government pleader. It came up for urgent admission thrice. The Chief Justice had directed the respondents to file their reply within six weeks and this was complied with in December.

Advocate Jayesh Kocheta,who represents the petitioner,said the PIL gives several instances of agricultural land turned into non-agricultural land through power of attorneys and development agreements. “Agriculturists have been deceived in this process,” said Kocheta.

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Pune doctor Rohit Mehta,who had sought a probe into an eight-acre land deal in Shirur,has also joined the litigation. Advocate Amit Bhowmick,Mehta’s lawyer,said the PIL seeks a special committee under a retired Supreme Court judge to probe into the alleged scams.

Kocheta said affidavits filed by the Maval deputy collector,subdivisional officer,joint district registrar and controller of stamps and superintendent (rural) have admitted some scams and said these are under investigation.

Gonjare’s litigation draws inputs from news reports about strong-arm tactics used by developers in Maval in connivance with revenue officials and the police. He has named the chief minister,revenue minister,Pune divisional commissioner,district collector and rural superintendent of police as respondents. He has asked the court to issue a writ order under Article 226 of the Constitution directing the respondents to reply in affidavits,to the allegations levelled against them. The respondents should also be asked to state the action taken by them to curb the land mafia,it says.

First published on: 06-03-2009 at 00:49 IST
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