Rs 100 cr land sold for just Rs 2.5 cr

25 December,2010 06:26 AM IST |   |  Vinod Kumar Menon

After Narayan Rane declared this agricultural land in Nashik non-agricultural, alleges pil

After Narayan Rane declared this agricultural land in Nashik non-agricultural, alleges pil

THE beleaguered state government, struggling to recover from the Adarsh scam which resulted in the ouster of a chief minister, now has another political hot potato to tackle.

Former Revenue Minister Narayan Rane has been accused of colluding with some relatives of the deceased trustees of a prime temple land in Nashik, to devalue the land, facilitating its sale at a dirt cheap rate.

The 39.11-acre property, valued at more than Rs 100 crore, was sold for a mere Rs 2.5 crore.

The agricultural land (measuring 73.11 acres) in Sinnar district, which comes under the Bombay Trust Act, was allegedly declared non-agricultural and taxable by Rane despite the Revenue Ministry having no jurisdiction over it. This move facilitated the land*s sale.

A PIL was filed about this in the Bombay High Court on Thursday by Sanjay Deshpande, a stamp vendor in Sinnar, who is also the president of the local Brahmin Samaj. Rane*s name is first on the list of respondents.
In his petition, (copy with this paper) Deshpande claims that he decided to seek information under the RTI Act to find out how the land, belonging to the famous Chitleshwar Devasthan Trust, was sold off on November 9, 2010.

"I found that the deal was struck without the knowledge of the Charity Commissioner Office at Nasik, which is the custodian of the property, and thus, has jurisdiction over it," said Deshpande.


Deshpande has accused one Arvind Vaidya, a relative of one of the original trustees (see box), and 19 others, of filing an appeal (BIW-3010/CR No 119/L4) earlier this year before then Revenue Minister Narayan Rane.
The appeal asked for the agricultural temple land to be declared non-agricultural and to be brought under the tax bracket.

Rane has been accused of passing an order on October 7, 2010, and removing the category-3 label from the land. The order brought the land under the tax bracket and converted all 73.11 acres to non-agricultural land.

On October 12, 2010 the Revenue Department in Mantralaya passed an order whereby the Collector, Nasik, was directed to give effect to Rane*s order.u00a0

Accordingly, 16 new persons were mutated (added as owners of the land) on November 2, 2010.

"The impact of this order was that the land was treated as the personal property of the 16 people and not as property belonging to a trust.

In less than a month after the order was passed on November 9 39.11 acres of the land was sold for Rs 2.5 crore, which is peanuts compared to its real value, which is close to Rs 100 crore" said Deshpande.

When asked why he raised his voice over the alleged irregularities, Deshpande said, "I am a native of the village and, like many other villagers, the Chitleshwar Mahadeo Shiv temple and the land holds tremendous religious value for me. I have no personal agenda and am fighting for the villagers* cause."

"I have requested the court to conduct a probe into the entire deal and cancel the sale of land as Rane has no jurisdiction over the property, which is under the Charity Commissioner.
Also, we expect the land to be returned to the temple, to which it belong."

Lawyer*s take

Advocate Dinesh Tiwari, who is representing Deshpande, said, "We have filed a petition and will argue the matter aggressively as we have all the evidence to prove that Rane and his cronies have misused their power to grab the temple land."

The matter will come up for hearing before the division bench of the Bombay High Court in the first week of January, when the court reopens after the vacation.

Criminal case?

Vishwanath Tayade, superintendent charity commissioner, Nasik, said, "The revenue minister has no power to interfere in property registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act, which is under the jurisdiction of the joint charity commissioner.
If any such land deal has taken place without the consent of Joint Charity Commissioner Devidas Mahale, the same can be termed null and void. Also, a criminal case can be filed against the trustees under Section 83 of the Act."

He clarified that the action can only be initiated against the trustees and not the minister.

"Since we have also been made party to the PIL, we will strongly object to the land deal and will even make a submission before the court requesting for the deal to be declared null and void and for the land to be returned."

Slice of History

As per the records, the land, measuring 73.11 acres, was gifted to the Chitleshwar Mahadev temple by some rulers of Indian origin more than 250 years ago.

The Sanad certificate (copy with this paper), dated December 10, 1861, attests to this fact. The British, too, certified that the land belonged to the temple.

Post independence, the temple and its property was registered under the Bombay Public Trust with the Charity Commissioner at Nasik Division on April 10, 1953.
Four original trustees Sadashiv, Laxman, Prabhakar and Trimbak Vaidya were also registered.

"I found, from government records, that all the four original trustees expired and no proceedings were ever carried out to bring any legal heirs of the trustees on the records of the trust.

The agricultural produce from the said land was used for maintaining the temple and for conducting pujas," said Deshpande.

The Other Side

State Industry Minister and former Revenue Minister Narayan Rane said, "The power to convert non-agricultural land to agricultural land vests with the additional collector and I have no role to play in it.
If someone has already filed a PIL before the High Court, we will accept whatever the court has to say. I have no clue about this particular case."

Number Game

Rs 100 cr
The estimated value of 39.11 acres of the land, as mentioned in the PIL

The year in which the land was gifted to the temple by some rulers of Indian origin

The area (in acres) of the entire land

Narayan Rane agricultural land Nashik sold Rs 2.5 cr
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