Revenue Minister Narayan Rane filed an affidavit before the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Tuesday refuting allegations made against him by a Nagpur-based industrialist, Shailendra Sahu, in a land deal.
Rane urged the high court to direct the petitioner to delete the allegations and his name from the list of respondents and that Sahu be directed to compensate for legal expenses Rane has incurred.
The senior Congress leader also questioned the petitioner’s claim that the state’s Revenue minister has no jurisdiction to consider renewal or cancellation of lease of government land. Rane’s affidavit said he did not know why the allegations of favouring Bapuna were levelled against him although he was not the Revenue minister when the lease was being renewed.
The land was allotted to the petitioner’s grandfather, Sunderlal, in March 1942 by the Central Provinces and Berar Governor on a 30-year lease. The lease was renewed from 1972 to 1978 and later till 2008.
In 1975, the Sahu family in association with Aspi Bapuna and three others started Vidarbha Distilleries on 30,000 sq. ft of the their land. The Sahus had given the land to the company on rent of Rs 1,100 a month. The Sahus and Bapuna had an argument in 1996, over illegal encroachments on the land.
The petition stated that on March 8, 2008, Bapuna complained to the Revenue minister that the petitioners had breached the lease agreement and the lease should not be renewed. He also allegedly demanded that a fresh lease be given to Vidarbha Distilleries.
Government Pleader Nitin Sambre told the court that the Revenue minister had not passed any order regarding the lease.
The Revenue Department in its separate affidavit asserted that the Revenue Minister and state have every right and jurisdiction to sanction the grant or renewal of lease if the market value of land exceeds Rs. 3.75 lakh. Both affidavits denied that during hearing held on April 20, the Revenue minister tried to pass the order in favour Vidarbha Distillers.
Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari gave Bapuna and the petitioner time to file a reply. The next hearing will be held on June 16.