Days after the BJP’s Eknath Khadse lost his ministership over a dubious deal involving a Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) land, a senior state IPS officer is facing the heat.
In a complaint to the police dated June 4, 2016, the MIDC has accused Mumbai Economic Offences Wing chief Dhananjay Kamalakar’s son Rohit, 23, of “fraudulently” usurping a 76,400-sq m land worth Rs 205 crore it owns in Pune’s Karegaon, in connivance with four other persons.
The police complaint is part of a 116-page dossier that the MIDC’s Pune office has shared with its Mumbai-based headquarters. Senior government functionaries have been apprised of the matter, sources confirmed.
The Indian Express has seen the dossier’s contents. The complaint demands that Rohit and the others be booked for cheating, forgery, and fraud.
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Kamalakar told The Indian Express his son had raised a “loan” for the purchase and that the MIDC’s estimate of the value of the land was “off the mark”. Rohit also claimed he had used his own resources to raise the money.
The MIDC has claimed that the plot is part of its Ranjangaon five-star industrial estate where leading firms including Pepsico India, Swarovski, Fiat Motors, etc have set up units. The MIDC pegs the minimum going rate at Rs 2,440 per sq m.
The dossier shows the MIDC acquired the land in 1993. An Indian Express investigation reveals that Rohit, along with Bhujangrao Ogale, Navin Wadke, Rangnath Wadke, and Prashant Ogale, bought it in 2015. The sale deeds, executed on April 17 and May 5 last year, show that the purchasers declared Rs 56 lakh as price for the entire land, or just Rs 73 per sq m.
The sale deeds further show that Rohit purchased the bulk of the land, 44,000 sq m.
Kamalakar refused to disclose the source of the “loan” to Rohit, only saying, “He is trying to establish himself.” Rohit and Bhujangrao claimed “the land was never acquired by the MIDC”.
Government records, however, appear to belie this. The dossier, for instance, carries an October 20, 1992, possession receipt issued to the MIDC. As per rules, such a receipt is granted only after completion of land acquisition formalities and payment of full compensation to the original land owners. There is a record that shows that the land owners accepted a compensation totalling Rs 1.85 lakh, at Rs 19,000 per hectare, in 1992. The land was eventually transferred to the MIDC on February 2, 1993.
On July 1, 1996, the property’s revenue records were mutated to mention that the “land was acquired for MIDC”. There is also an ‘affidavit-on-oath’ that the original owners have submitted to a local court in 2007 conceding that the land had been duly acquired and compensation paid.
Asked about this, Kamalakar said neither he nor his son would be aware of the nitty gritties. “Bhujangrao holds my son’s power of attorney,” he defended, conceding it was he who had introduced Bhujangrao to Rohit.
Bhujangrao, when contacted, contended that the original owners had not received compensation even once, suggesting that the land acquisition process had not been completed, but did not produce any evidence for this.
Both Kamalakar and Bhujangrao also claimed that they relied upon a March 26, 2015, letter issued by MIDC Area Manager S S Kulkarni, which stated that “the land was not part of the MIDC’s layout or the area acquired for industrial use”.
Kulkarni’s letter was in response to an application from Bhujangrao for an NOC for purchasing the land. “The need for an NOC does not arise,” her letter stated. But the MIDC argues in the dossier that Kulkarni wasn’t the appropriate authority to approach for an NOC. The dossier contains a letter from Ajit Deshmukh, the regional manager, “The purchasers Bhujangrao and Rohit approached me twice for the NOC. It was after I turned down their request that they… approached my subordinate.”
It was on September 14, 2015, that the MIDC lodged a formal objection to the sale transaction. A month later, revenue authorities deleted the purchasers’ names from the records and entered the MIDC as land owners. The purchasers suffered another blow when the 5th Joint Civil Judge of Pune’s Senior Division V S Malkalpatte-Reddy, on January 20, rejected their plea for interim relief and rejected the argument that Kulkarni’s March letter could be regarded as conclusive proof.
Records show S T Deshmukh, the local talathi, had also complained to the police on June 4, contending that the purchases had used ‘bogus’ records for their cause. Countering the allegation, Bhujangrao said they had moved an application before a Shirur-based judicial magistrate against him, Ajit Deshmukh, and two other revenue officials, alleging they had ‘fabricated’ land records.
Refusing to comment any further “since the matter is sub-judice”, Kamalakar said, “If there have been some irregularities from our end, we are willing to take corrective measures.”