Maharashtra’s revenue minister and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse has countered allegations of undervaluing land bought in Bhosari, but questions have been raised as to how the ready reckoner (RR) – valuation used to decide stamp duty on a real estate transaction – was higher than the declared value of the land.
Accusing Khadse of using his political position for personal financial gain, a whistle blower claimed Khadse and his family undervalued the plot during the transaction.
Khadse’s wife Mandakini and son-in-law Girish Chaudhary had bought 1.21 hectares of land in Bhosari, Pune, for a mere Rs 3.75 crore against the RR price of Rs 23 crore.
When the minister’s assets were disclosed it was found that registered land documents showed the government valuation at Rs 3.75 crore. However, stamp duty of the same was paid on the RR price of Rs 23 crore.
“This will benefit buyer as well as seller as Khadse can hide his actual assets, while Abbas Ukani, the seller would have paid lesser income tax,” said Hemant Gawande, a Pune-based businessman, who exposed the deal.
Gawande further accused Khadse’s family of seeking compensation from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) under the new Land Acquisition Act, which could earn them anything between Rs 60 crore and Rs 90 crore.
The minister, however, denied the allegations.
“When I paid the stamp duty on the ready reckoner value and paid the tax on it, my intention was not malafide. Since the matter is sub-judice, let the high court decide if the valuation was right or wrong,” he said.
Though Khadse claims the land ownership is not under the MIDC, the corporation claimed its name has been on the 7/12 extract – a revenue document that serves as proof of ownership – since 2010 after Ukani issued an advertisement for the plot through an advertisement in local newspapers.
“It has created the third party interest and the land vests with the government as the process of the section 32(1) of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Act 1961 was completed. It is true that though the MIDC should not have been kept in the dark, the Act is silent on if the original landlord (Ukani) has the right to sell the land,” said an MIDC official.
After notification was issued, the plot was taken into possession in 1971 and then allotted to 14 industrial units during 1985-87. Though the MIDC possessed the land for the past 45 years, it was only in 2010 that the corporation entered in the 7/12 extract after it took objection to Ukani’s advertisement. The plot was later bought by Khadse’s kin.
“There are third and fourth party interests generated as the lessee industries have again sub-leased the plots to other parties. In such a scenario, the sell directly by the owner is uncalled for,” said a revenue department official
Officials from the registration department washed their hands of the situation, stating checking the validity of the documents registered is not its responsibility.
“According to the legal provisions, the registration officials are not expected to check the validity. The aggrieved parties, in case of grievance, may later move court,” said Sanjay Kolte, joint inspector general of registration.
Congress alleged that Khadse breached the oath of secrecy administered by the governor as he used the information related to the MIDC land for his own benefit instead of helping the original owner in getting compensation. Party spokesperson Sachin Sawant accused that by buying land using his political position, Khadse violated the code of conduct for ministers and wrote to the governor seeking the minister’s removal.