The Bombay high court on Monday admonished Maharashtra government for delay in hand-over of files to justice JA Patil Commission probing irregularities in allotment of flats under the chief minister's discretionary quota since 1982.
"You cannot take months to give the files," said the division bench headed by justice Abhay Oka, after reading a complaint filed by NN Kumbhar, secretary of the commission of inquiry set up by the court.
"Also, you may have to consider extending the term of the Commission (ending April 30). All this would put a burden on exchequer," it said, asking the state to hand over the files immediately.
The government lawyer pleaded that the staff was new and the records pertained to a long period (1982 to 2011), so it was taking time.
The bench asked the secretaries of housing and urban development departments to file affidavits in reply by March 9 when the court will fix a time-frame for handing over of the files.
Hearing a public interest litigation filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar about alleged abuse of the CM's quota, the high court had on October 9, 2014 appointed justice Patil Commission. It ordered the government to make available all relevant records.
The commission secretary complained that since December 1, the housing department had given only about 500 files out of the total 1,300, while UDD had handed over only 314 out of the 12,000 files, despite reminders. The joint secretary of housing department PL Pathak said in a letter that the staff was "comparatively new" and the records covered a long period of time, which caused delay.
"Communication had been sent to Mantralaya record room to find out the record that might have been sent for preservation. The subject of discretionary allotment was handled by various desks which are non-existent today. Efforts are being made to check these records," the letter said.
The letter was handed over to the court by public prosecutor J P Yagnik.
The urban development joint secretary said in his letter that "with regard to the 5 per cent housing quota of CM, the files are too old and not properly paged, tagged and stored... in maximum cases, on a single note of approval of allotment, more than one individuals are allotted and which varies upto 200 allotments in single approval. In such cases, as per the Commission's direction we need to make a xerox and construct separate files equal to the number of the beneficiary.
"Whatever files were available...had been handed over to the Secretary of the Commission. However, these files were not accepted and the department was asked to make a number of xerox (photo-copy) sets, equal to the orders issued from that single file."