Maharashtra government on Tuesday termed as "illegal" a land deal by Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani's group firm for a posh mansion now under construction in the plush Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai.
A notification issued by Revenue and Forest Department has directed the state Wakf Board to 'take back possession' of five wakf board properties, including the 4,532 sq metre land where Ambani is building the 27-floor skyscraper.
"An inquiry into the land transfer deal has found truth in allegations that the transfer was illegal," according to the communication signed by Deputy Secretary, Revenue and Forest, Avinash Hazare.
The government asked the Board to proceed as per Section 52 of the Wakf Act 1995, in respect of the five properties.
The other properties are located in Nanded (26 acres and 11 hectares), Kej in Beed district (10 acres) and at Satara village in Aurangabad district (24 hectares).
The chairman of the Wakf Board, MA Aziz has been asked to clarify his position on these transactions within 15 days, failing which he can be sacked. The government has also ordered a special audit of the Wakf Board.
Antilia Commercial Pvt Ltd, a Mukesh Ambani company, had bought the property in 2002. "Transaction of the property took place before I assumed office," Aziz told PTI here on Tuesday night.
The property originally belonged to the Madhavrao Scindia family and was handed over to one Currimbhoy before being transferred to Antilia Commercial, he said.
"As per my knowledge, Ambani bought the land from the Currimbhoy Orphanage Trust in 2002 for Rs 21 crore. When I became chairman of the Board, I sought a revaluation of the property and it came to Rs 38 crore. The company paid the difference," Aziz said.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Wakf, which was on a visit to Mumbai recently, had paid a brief visit to the site of the under-construction house. The committee chairman, Laljaan Basha, had subsequently declined to comment on the issue.
According to the plan, drawn up by the firm Perkins+Will, the house will resemble a virtual glass palace with entertainment centres, a health club, a swimming pool and various green spots thrown in for good measure.
Construction of the 27-floor house at Altamount Road, where real estate prices are now in the region of Rs 75,000 per sq ft, began late last year and the first six floors are already in place.