HC asks Maha govt to trace files of CM's housing quota by July 31

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today set July 31 as the deadline for Maharashtra government to trace 'missing' files pertaining to allotment of flats from the Chief Minister's discretionary housing quota since 1982.

If the files were still not found, the one-man inquiry committee can draw its own conclusion as to whether the allotments should be held illegal, said the division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Reveti Mohite-Dhere.

The HC was hearing a public interest litigation filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar, which alleges that non-eligible people got flats from the quota and some people got more than one flat.

The government had earlier said that some of the files pertaining to allotments could not be found.

In October 2014, the HC had appointed a one-man committee of retired judge J A Patil to probe the alleged irregularities in the allotment of flats from 1982 onwards.

The bench today directed the state government to extend the term of the committee to October 15, 2015, because of the delay in handing over of the files.

The committee was free to draw it own conclusion if important documents were not produced by the government, it said.

The court also asked the government to file FIRs or appropriate proceedings against concerned persons if it detected cases of double or multiple allotment, without waiting for the committee's report.

The next hearing would be on October 26. On the last occasion, the government had stated that around 1,200 allottees had surrendered the flats and about 300 FIRs had been filed.

However, today the acting Advocate General Anil Singh said this figure was incorrect because vacant flats were counted in. Only seven allottees had surrendered the houses allotted to them and 15 FIRs had been filed, he said.

Nitin Kareer, Principal Secretary, Urban Development, said in an affidavit that applications for allotment in 6,430 cases and the CM's orders in 1,964 cases were untraceable and could not be provided to the committee.

In some cases, the list of allottees was received directly from the Chief Minister's office while in a few other cases the allotments were made at the level of Thane district Collector, so documents were not available, he said.

Also, following the fire in Mantralaya (secretariat) in 2012, various departments, including UDD, had to be shifted temporarily and "this could have led to some papers or files being misplaced and not being traceable today," he said. The PIL alleges that many people got more than one flat by making false declarations (of not possessing a flat allotted under the quota) and most beneficiaries were either
politicians or people close to politicians.

Justice Patil was supposed to submit a report by April 30 but the deadline was today extended to October 15. The government should continue its action against those who got the flats by filing false affidavits and such people should either return the flats or cough up the price if they had sold them, the bench said.

The allotment under the CM's quota has now been stopped following the court's order. Under the scheme, flats were supposed to be given at concessional rates to persons falling in various categories, including freedom fighters, artists, sport persons, etc.

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