The controversy surrounding the purported stay granted by Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on recovery of rent arrears from various political parties for office space allocated to them at Nariman Point was put to an end by the State Advocate General Ravi Kadam on Tuesday.
Kadam told the Bombay High Court that the Chief Minister had never granted a stay on recovery of rent and that his communication to the Public Works Department (PWD) was misconstrued.
The court was hearing a petition field by Krantikari Jaihind Sena (KJS), a political outfit, alleging that various political outfit owed nearly Rs 2.5 crore to the PWD on account of rent for their office premises. KJS had approached the HC after PWD rejected its application in October to allocate office space.
The controversy had arisen after PWD filed an affidavit earlier claiming that Deshmukh had stayed the recovery proceedings from two parties, CPI (M) and Republican Party of India (RPI). PWD authorities followed suit and stayed the recovery of rents from all political parties, stated the affidavit.
After receiving request letters from various political parties for waiving off their rent in 2002, Deshmukh had forwarded their letters to PWD asking the department to consider their request. However, in no case had the Deshmukh restrained PWD from collecting rents, argued Kadam.
Kadam and government pleader KR Belosay also informed the court that PWD had initiated recovery proceedings from various political parties. From November 1, seven different political parties had paid up over Rs 25 lakhs.
The Congress (I) has paid Rs 16 lakh as part payment towards its outstanding rent. Whereas Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) have repaid Rs 5 lakh and Rs 2.5 lakh each.
A division bench of Justice FI Rebello and Justice AV Mohta have directed the state government to recover all the outstanding amount from the political parties and submit an action taken report by December 4.