Bombay High Court has questioned the Maharashtra Government's decision to allot a land reserved for cattle-grazing in a village near Baramati in Pune district to an educational trust headed by the NCP chief and Union Minister Sharad Pawar.

In response to a public interest litigation, the division bench headed by Justices Abhay Oka on Tuesday said such a land cannot be alloted for any other purpose, and asked the government under which rule it was given to Vidya Pratishthan, the trust.

The petition, filed by Jyotiram Jadhav, a local farmer, alleges that Pune district collector and the state government did not follow the rules; they did not call for applications from the public at large for allotment or hold an auction.

Sharad Pawar
Sharad Pawar

"If you want to allot the land then you must adopt transparent and fair means, otherwise people would not know whether the land is available for allotment," the bench said.

Vidya Pratishthan's lawyer Abhijit Kulkarni contended that a school had been built on the land and it was now functioning.

The High Court adjourned the hearing to June 23, issuing a notice to the state government.

The land, located within the limits of Waghalwadi village, and was alloted to the trust on January 23, 2009.

Sharad Pawar, as the Chairman of the Vidya Pratisthan, has been made one of the respondents in the PIL.

Jadhav contends that Pune collector has no power to allot any land valued at more than Rs 2.50 lakh.

In this case, the land measures more than two hectares and its value was estimated to be more than Rs 2.5 lakh, the petition says.

The trust got the land only because of Pawar's political clout, it says.

Baramati Lok Sabha constituency is currently represented by Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule, who is seeking reelection from there in the ongoing elections.