In an embarrassment to the BJP Government in Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court today quashed the allotment of land at throwaway prices to a trust named after late party chief Kushabhau Thakre, saying it was an act of nepotism and favouritism with the entire process fraught with illegality.
The apex court minced no words in expressing its ire that the rules were flouted to bolster the party's vote bank and rejected the State Government's argument that the entire exercise was aimed to further public interest.
A bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly cancelled the state government notification for allotting 20 acres of land to the trust whose trustees include senior party leaders L K Advani, M Venkaiah Naidu and Murli Manohar Joshi.
"The allotment of land to bodies/organisations/ institutions on political considerations or by way of favoritism or nepotism or with a view to nurture the vote bank for future is constitutionally impermissible," the bench said.
The apex court directed the authority concerned to take possession of the land which was allotted on September 25, 2004 by the then Madhya Pradesh government headed by Uma Bharti.
The court refused to give credence to the state government's arguments that the trust has been created to serve the public good and an educational institute would be set up at the land allotted to the trust after noting that most its members are from one political party.
"Although, the objectives of the Trust are laudable and the institute proposed to be established by it is likely to benefit an important segment of the society but the fact remains that all its trustees are members of a particular party."
"And the entire exercise for the reservation and allotment of land and waiver of major portion of the premium was undertaken because political functionaries of the State wanted to favour the Trust and the officers of the State at different levels were forced to toe the line of their political masters," the court said in its 59-page verdict.
While turning down the plea of the state government and trust that the the court should not quash the allotment of land, the Bench said the entire process of allotment was fraught with illegality and in violation of the law.
"We have found that the impugned allotment is the result of an exercise undertaken in gross violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and is an act of favoritism and nepotism," the court said.
The court passed the order on a petition filed by Akhil Bhartiya Upbhokta Congress, a consumers’ society registered in MP, challenging the government's decision on the ground that the land at Basvadiya village was given at a throwaway price to the Trust in violation of laws.
The consumers' society approached the apex court after the MP High Court had refused to quash the land allotment.
Setting aside the order of the High Court, the bench said that the High Court failed to see that the allotment of land was nothing but a blatant act of favoritism.
"Unfortunately, the Division Bench of the High Court overlooked that the entire process of reservation of land and allotment thereof was fraught with grave illegality and was nothing but a blatant act of favoritism on the part of functionaries of the State and summarily dismissed the writ petition," the bench said.
"The impugned order of the High Court is set aside and the writ petition filed by the appellant is allowed. The allotment of 20 acres land to the Trust is declared illegal and quashed," the bench said.
The apex court had reserved its order on January 19 after hearing extensively the arguments of the consumers' society and the state government.
Defending its decision to allot the land, the state government had contended that there was nothing wrong in allotting the land to a trust named after political leaders as the Centre and many other states have allotted huge chunks of land to several trusts in the name of prominent political figures in the past.
The state government had argued that if uniform parameters were to be applied for all trusts created in the name of the political leaders, then all such allotments made by the Union government were open to scrutiny of the top court.
SC Quashes Land Allotment by BJP Govt to Thakre Trust
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