Land Allotment to Vilasrao's Trust Under HC Scanner

Land Allotment to Vilasrao's Trust Under HC Scanner
In more trouble for Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, a land allotment in Latur district during his tenure as Maharashtra Chief Minister has come under the scanner of the Bombay High Court.

The issue is a part of the PIL which had also challenged allotment of land in suburban Goregaon to film-maker Subhash Ghai's Whistling Woods International Private Limited (WWIPL). The HC, then, had decided to take up the WWIPL case first.

Rajendra Sontakke, Rahul Makanikar who belongs to NCP, and two other petitioners have taken exception to the allotment of 2 lakh sq metres of land of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) in Latur to Vilasrao Deshmukh Foundation (VDF) for an educational institution.

According to the PIL, MIDC allotted the land to VDF, controlled by Deshmukh's wife and son, only at his behest for "malafide and corrupt considerations".

The petition says that allotment to Ghai's institute as well as the one to VDF had attracted adverse comments from CAG.

On June 7, 2002, MIDC passed a resolution, which said it could allot this piece of land in Latur to an educational institution at 50 per cent of the market rate for industrial land.

In March-April 2006, MIDC allotted 1.20 lakh sq m to VDF for a college and 0.80 sq m for a playground, the petition says. This was in excess of what the resolution had laid down, it says.

Deshmukh's lawyer, senior counsel Venkatesh Dhond, said the court should first consider whether the Bombay bench had jurisdiction to hear the matter.

"We will have to consider the jurisdiction issue first as the disputed land is in Latur. The Aurangabad bench may have jurisdiction," division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice N M Jamdar said.

The next hearing is on April 23.

In the matter of Ghai's institute, High Court had quashed the allotment, terming it "abuse of power". Last week, the Supreme Court upheld this decision.
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