The two-member judicial commission led by former high court judge JA Patil in its report has highlighted that lapses of the defence ministry in asserting its supposed right consolidated the claims of the state.
The panel noted defence did not have any documentary evidence to prove that the plot was in existence prior to 1937 and was in its possession.
The general commanding officer of Maharashtra and Gujarat, Brigadier Deepak Saxena, was ticked off by the commission for submitting “unauthenticated maps” dating back to 1897 and 1909 – one from Google and another from the Edinburgh Geographical Institute – to show that the plot was in possession of the army from before 1937. Other than this, the army submitted only one other map Survey of India Map, 1957, which was not conclusive either.
The report talks of the “inconsistent conduct” of officials such as correspondences from 1958 to 2010 in which they had admitted this land belonged to the state. The latest correspondence was by the current defence estate officer, Gita Kashyap, who in 2010 wrote that the land belonged to the state.
The report also slammed the army’s inaction and questioned how it remained silent when the Eco Park allegedly inaugurated by it on this plot in 1996 was pulled down in 2004. It asked how the army failed to raise protest on security of ownership back then.
The commission termed the plea of “adverse possession” – claim of the right to property against the true owner on grounds of long possession – made by the army as not “proper” and “ethical’” and smacking of an “unwarranted inimical attitude’’ against the state.
The report criticised the state too. If the army did not have the plot mentioned in the military land registrar – the record of all lands owned by defence – the state also did not create a property card for the plot until 2004.