The Bombay high court on Friday directed the Mumbai suburban district collector to look into the claim of Bhushan Samant, son of late trade union leader Datta Samant, that 444 acres of khoti land worth Rs17,000crore, at Powai, has been grabbed.
The division bench of chief justice Manjula Chellur and justice MS Sonak has ordered the collector to treat Samant’s public interest litigation, filed through his advocate, as his representation and decide it in four months.
In the PIL filed through advocate Gunratan Sadavarte, Samant contended that with enactment of the Bombay khoti abolition act, 1949 all khoti tenures stood abolished and the khoti lands reverted as the property of the state. He further contended that, however, the state authorities failed to take action regarding such a land at Powai admeasuring 444 acres, valued at Rs6,928.61crore,which is now in possession of different developers after a number of illegal transactions.
Samant had, therefore, sought a special investigation to be carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the transactions of the Khoti lands at Powai and cancel all the permissions for putting up any construction on the lands. He had also sought civil and criminal action against government officials responsible for the inaction and resultant loss to the state exchequer.
The bench, however, felt that a detailed enquiry will be required to be undertaken by competent revenue authority for ascertaining the exact status of the land and determining which provisions of the Bombay Khoti Abolition Act, 1949 were attracted in the case and accordingly action was required to be taken by the concerned authority.
The bench, therefore, ordered the Collector, Mumbai suburban district to enquire into Samant’s claims. The bench laid down the deadline of four months on Sadavarte’s request to make it a time-bound programme in view of the fact that the government had not decided the petitioner’s representation for over a year.