Matter goes to high court after 120-acre plot on the outskirts meant for 10,000 homes for lower-ranked cops like constables, havildar and naiks sees alleged malpractices by senior officers
The 120-acre township land in Khalapur is in the name of the project’s interim chief promoter, a retired IPS officer
Over 6,000 Mumbai policemen’s desire to own a house has remained a pipedream for 11 years amid the shoddy working of the housing society formed for a dedicated township. The issue has reached the Bombay High Court (HC) as the affected policemen have asked for a stay in the election for the housing society scheduled for October through a civil writ petition. The Bombay HC on Wednesday directed the respondents to submit their replies. The affected policemen include those between the ranks of constable and sub-inspectors.
The 120-acre township land in Khalapur is in the name of the project’s chief promoter, a retired IPS officer
They have alleged discrepancies in the manner the interim chief promoter, a retired IPS officer, of the ‘Brihanmumbai Police Sahakari Gruhnirman Sanstha’ was allowed to make the voters list for the society election. It is claimed that the Assistant Registrar of the Co-operation Department, Khalapur, overlooked the expulsion of the chief promoter and approved the voter list prepared by him. The civil writ petition has also asked for a probe into the housing society’s alleged malpractices and illegalities.
The respondents include the additional chief secretary the Department of co-operatives, Marketing and Textile; the additional chief secretary, department of home; commissioner of cooperation; the registrar of cooperative societies; the chairman/secretary of the Brihanmumbai Police Cooperative Housing Society Ltd; and six others.
About the township
The township was planned in 2011 to provide 10,000 flats for policemen. A police circular was issued in February 2012 for the purpose. Advocate Siddharth Ingle, who is representing the policemen, said, “The membership for the project was Rs 1,21,100. It was increased to over R2 lakh and to over R3 lakh after 2020. The project was mooted by the then Mumbai police commissioner. A senior IPS officer, who was then the superintendent of police, Raigad and is now retired, was made the interim chief promoter to procure land in Tembri/Vayaal village, Khalapur, Panvel.” Another retired IPS officer was in charge of the scrutiny committee.
Advocate Rashid Khan, lead council appearing before Bombay HC
Over 11,100 police personnel applied for the membership and eventually, 6,771 members were short-listed. Each policeman was entitled to a 650 sqft 2BHK flat. The township was to be spread across 120 acres. The cost of the flats was Rs 10 lakh at the beginning and later went up to Rs 30 lakh. “As per the 2012 police circular, shortlisted members were to hand over the power of attorney in the name of the chief promoter, who would procure the land for the project. This move was unethical,” said Ingle.
A Mumbai police constable, who did not wish to be identified, said, “I have six to seven years of service left in the police department. I still do not own a house. I registered for the project in 2012 and paid Rs 1.21 lakh. After 2019, when the society was formed, we were asked to pay another R1.8 lakh, with the claim that it was part of our instalment for housing loan, procured through a nationalised bank. We were asked told create an account with the bank and get the loan processed. I borrowed money from my relatives to pay the society. With no progress in the construction and the officials concerned not adhering to norms, we had to approach the court.”
“Even as the land was procured in the name of the interim chief promoter—a violation of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960—nothing happened on the ground. It took seven years for the Brihanmumbai Police Sahakari Gruhnirman Sanstha to be registered and the land continues to be in the chief promoter’s name,” claimed Ingle. “The land should have been procured in the name of the housing society. The 7/12 property card of revenue department also reflects the interim chief promoter as the owner of 120 acres of land,” Ingle said.
“We got information that another 85-guntha land is procured in the name of the retired IPS officer in charge of the scrutiny committee. Hence, we have requested for a probe by a high-level committee,” said Ingle. The civil writ petition has asked for the final voter list, dated August 3 and prepared by the interim chief promoter and the executive committee of the society, to be quashed. The petition claims that the interim chief promoter prepared the voter list despite being expelled by the taluka co-operative election officer, and assistant registrar, co-operative societies, Khalapur in an order in May this year. The order appointed the Board of Authorised officers, Brihanmumbai Police Cooperative Housing Society Ltd, to take charge and prepare the voter list.
“However, the interim chief promoter, that is, the retired IPS officer, refused to hand over the office despite his expulsion over the faulty voter list and alleged misappropriations, malpractices, and lack of transparency. The policemen, who are the rightful members, have thus approached the HC,” said Ingle. Lead Counsel Advocate Rashid Khan, who appeared in the case before the Bombay High Court, said, “The intention of the Brihanmumbai Police Sahakari Gruhnirman Sanstha is respectable but the functioning is questionable. The present managing committee seems to have forgotten the primary goal of the society; members have lost faith in them.”Attempts made to contact the retired IPS officers connected to the project did not yield any results.
Year circular for project was issued by Mumbai police