JUSTICE ZAIDI Commission seems to have become a pain in the neck for the LDA. This is because the futility of the probe panel set up with the sole purpose to set at rest the controversy generated over the out-of-turn allotment of plots to VVIPs is just beginning to weigh heavy on the development agency.
What is more— Justice (retired) RH Zaidi’s approach in going about his job has only made matters worse for the development regulator. “The State Government had prescribed four terms of references for the Commission, which was set up on September 6, 2005. Apart from the allotment of 28 plots in question (in Vipul Khand of Gomti Nagar), the panel was asked to go through the plot allotment process prevalent in development authorities look into residential plots allotted by development authorities and the UP Avas Evam Vikas Parishad since 1975 and suggest measures, if any, to streamline and make the whole process more transparent,” pointed out an LDA official.
Since a PIL over these 28 plots is pending with the Supreme Court, the Commssion obviously cannot conduct a parallel probe. So, this matter is out of its brief, said the official. Instead, the Commission has shot off a 24-point questionnaire to us on issues that were never part of its brief, lamented the official. LDA’s grumbling is understandable. This is because the development regulator finds itself in a fix over certain posers of the Commission. For instance, Justice Zaidi has inquired (question number 4) about the date of making of regulations by the development authority under section 56 of the UP Urban Planning and Development Act of 1973. Section 56 deals with the power to make regulations by an authority for the administration of its affairs including the management/allotment of the properties.
For LDA the query has the potential of opening a virtual Pandora’s box. This is because no such regulations exist! “We had drafted some regulations in 1993 and even got them duly approved by our Board. But since they were never endorsed by the State Government, legally, they have little value,” revealed an official. As if this was not enough, Justice Zaidi’s question number 8 and 9 drive home the nail by asking for the date of approval and enforcement of these byelaws by the State Government.
Even if it is accepted for argument sake that the LDA had drafted its own regulations in 1993, the moot question remains: how was the development agency going about its job prior to this? Officials admit that there is no honest answer to this. However, a tactful and misleading reply, the one that would surely be furnished by the LDA, is that the authority was managing its affair as per the norms of the parent body (the Nagar Nigam and the Improvement Trust) under section 59-1C. How it will convince the Commission remains to be seen.