The Maharashtra government’s decision to grant around 100 acres in Nagpur district on lease to organisations headed by BJP president Nitin Gadkari in 2005 was in violation of a Supreme Court judgment.
India Against Corruption (IAC) leader Arvind Kejriwal had on Wednesday alleged that former Maharashtra irrigation minister Ajit Pawar had allowed the BJP chief to use land, acquired from villagers for the construction of a dam, in return for maintaining silence on various scams.
Gadkari and other BJP leaders had dismissed the allegations as “baseless and laughable,” and had asserted that he merely got wasteland, which was neither used for the dam nor for farming, on lease for 11 years.
However, an SC verdict on the issue of land acquisition for public purposes — delivered in 1997 — casts a question mark on the entire issue. The apex court stated that land once acquired for any public purpose cannot be given to any private party.
“It is a settled law that once the land acquired for a public purpose was achieved, the rest of the land could be used for similar public service. In case there is no other public purpose for which land is needed, then it should be put to public auction,” the SC stated in its judgment delivered on May 5, 1997.
The country’s top court further stated the money, which would be collected from the auction of any such land, “can be better utilised for the public purpose envisaged in directive principles of the Constitution.”
The order allowing excess land to be used by Gadkari’s company and an NGO was signed by Pawar.