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Rane’s land order set aside

The plot of land at Sahar, caught in a tug of war between the state and a private party, will remain with the government until the matter is decided, the Bombay High Court ruled on Friday.

mumbai Updated: May 08, 2010 01:47 IST
HT Correspondent

The plot of land at Sahar, caught in a tug of war between the state and a private party, will remain with the government until the matter is decided, the Bombay High Court ruled on Friday.

The HC set aside an order of Narayan Rane, passed when he was revenue minister in 2007, regarding the ownership of a 2.16-lakh-square-meter plot adjoining the international airport.

The plot was declared state property in 1953 following an inquiry. In 1995, Coral Gonsalves, a local, had filed an appeal before then Revenue Minister Sudhir Joshi, who held the land to be private property. When revenue authorities later found old documents declaring Gonsalves as an encroacher they moved a review application before Rane in 1998 who ruled against the Gonsalves family.

Rane, however, recalled his own order in 2007 while acting on a plea filed by Esteem Properties Private Limited, construction firm that had filed a review application claiming rights to the property through Gonsalves.

Chetan Kamble, a Republican Party of India activist from Aurangabad, had filed a petition challenging Rane’s decision. His lawyer, Uday Warunjikar, contended that the decision was taken with mala fide intentions since the land in question was worth crores. A division bench of Justice F.I. Rebello and Justice J.H. Bhatia, on Friday set aside the order terming it “really arbitrary and per se illegal”.

The judges were surprised to find contrary stands taken by revenue officials in different litigations regarding the same plot. While they opposed the Gonsalves family’s claim in a writ petition, in Kamble’s PIL they supported Rane’s decision to declare the land privately owned.

“When publThe plot of land at Sahar, caught in a tug of war between the state and a private party, will remain with the government until the matter is decided, the Bombay High Court ruled on Friday.

The HC set aside an order of Narayan Rane, passed when he was revenue minister in 2007, regarding the ownership of a 2.16-lakh-square-meter plot adjoining the international airport.

The plot was declared state property in 1953 following an inquiry. In 1995, Coral Gonsalves, a local, had filed an appeal before then Revenue Minister Sudhir Joshi, who held the land to be private property. When revenue authorities later found old documents declaring Gonsalves as an encroacher they moved a review application before Rane in 1998 who ruled against the Gonsalves family.

Rane, however, recalled his own order in 2007 while acting on a plea filed by Esteem Properties Private Limited, construction firm that had filed a review application claiming rights to the property through Gonsalves.

Chetan Kamble, a Republican Party of India activist from Aurangabad, had filed a petition challenging Rane’s decision. His lawyer, Uday Warunjikar, contended that the decision was taken with mala fide intentions since the land in question was worth crores. A division bench of Justice F.I. Rebello and Justice J.H. Bhatia, on Friday set aside the order terming it “really arbitrary and per se illegal”.

The judges were surprised to find contrary stands taken by revenue officials in different litigations regarding the same plot. While they opposed the Gonsalves family’s claim in a writ petition, in Kamble’s PIL they supported Rane’s decision to declare the land privately owned.

“When public revenue is involved inconsistent stand of the state itself leads to suspicion,” the court said. “This court cannot remain a mute spectator and must exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction, so that quasi judicial authorities act within their jurisdiction.”

The HC said the ownership of the plot will be decided in a pending civil suit. Until then, the land will stay with the state.ic revenue is involved inconsistent stand of the state itself leads to suspicion,” the court said. “This court cannot remain a mute spectator and must exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction, so that quasi judicial authorities act within their jurisdiction.”

The HC said the ownership of the plot will be decided in a pending civil suit. Until then, the land will stay with the state.