The Narendra Modi-led government is reviewing a UPA decision to cancel the allotment of land to 29 religious, social and cultural organisations affiliated to the RSS, the ideological wellspring of the ruling BJP, on the grounds that rules were not followed.
The Union urban development ministry this week set up a two-member committee of retired IAS officers -- former highways secretary LK Joshi and former urban development secretary M Ramachandran -- to review if the decision to cancel the allotments was justified. The committee has to submit its report by March 2016.
Sources said if the committee concluded that the cancellation was not justified, the ministry could seek its revocation by the court where a case is pending on the issue.
“A majority of the allottees whose land was cancelled have moved court. So the ministry will have to approach the court for taking a final call once the committee submits its report,” a senior government official said.
In 2004, the then UPA government cancelled the allotments based on recommendations by a one-member inquiry committee headed by retired IAS officer Yogesh Chandra.
The allotments were made between 1998-1999 and September 2004 by the then Atal Behari Vajpayee-led NDA government. The Chandra committee examined some 100 cases of land allotted to various organisations.
In 32 cases, the committee observed the allotments were made “without due regard to the stipulated procedure”. The UPA government finally cancelled 29 such allotments including those made to organisations such as Mukherjee Smiriti Nyas, Vishwa Samvad Kendra, Dharam Yatra Mahasangh and Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, among others.
Soon after the NDA came to power in May 2014, many of the organisations whose allotments were cancelled approached urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu to review their case.
“Since the matter is in court the ministry sought the opinion of the attorney general in August on whether it can review, case-by-case, the decision taken by the previous government. Once the AG gave his view that the ministry could review it, the ministry decided to set up a committee,” another government official said.
Government sources said though the allotments were cancelled, in some cases the allottees held on to the land and built makeshift offices there.