Maharashtra's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) today registered an FIR against well-known real estate developer Niranjan Hiranandani and senior IAS officer Thomas Benjamin for alleged irregularities in a housing project worth about Rs 45,000 crore in the city, police said.
A social worker Santosh Daundkar had filed a complaint with ACB against Hiranandani on June 30, 2011, stating that he was supposed to construct tenements for weaker sections of society on a government land under the Powai Housing Development Scheme at Powai in the suburbs but, he cheated the state by constructing spacious flats and selling them off at a premium to the affluents.
However the ACB, instead of registering an FIR, had referred the matter to the government. Daundkar, in April, filed a criminal complaint with Special ACB Court under the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code. Special judge V A Daulatabadkar recently asked ACB to conduct investigation under Section 156(3) of Cr.Pc and register an FIR against Thomas Benjamin, Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department of the state, Hiranandani, co-founder of the Hiranandani Group and officials of Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and the city civic body.
"As per the court's order, we have registered the FIR against Hiranandani, Benjamin and officers of MMRDA and civic body," Sanjiv Dayal, Director General (ACB), told PTI.
In January 1977, MMRDA had approved "Powai Area Development Scheme", to develop 344 acre land in Powai. This land became the subject matter of acquisition under the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976, (ULC Act) so that the scheme for mass housing for economically weaker sections could be implemented.
Daundkar's lawyer Y P Singh said, "With the lodging of FIR, ACB gets full powers to arrest, search, seize, summoning the witnesses, taking remand of the accused etc as provided for in the Cr.Pc".
"As the investigation would progress, it is expected to open a big can of worms with names of some former Chief Ministers, Ministers, and senior bureaucrats cropping up who allegedly helped Hiranandani in this mammoth fraud and corruption which went on for about 20 years," he added.