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State to conduct departmental probe

mumbai Updated: Feb 01, 2011 02:00 IST
Urvi Mahajani

Home minister RR Patil’s officer on special duty, Dr Yogesh Mhase, may have to face a departmental inquiry in the land scam in Pune in which bogus orders were allegedly passed under the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act (ULCA), 1976, to avoid surrendering excess land to the state.

TC Benjamin, principal secretary, urban development department, has filed an affidavit in the Bombay high court on Monday saying that the government has decided to initiate a departmental inquiry against all the officers involved in passing illegal orders in 45 cases.

The affidavit was filed following a high court order in a public interest litigation filed by Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Madhav Bhandari alleging that between 1976 and 2005, 11,894 returns (statements of property extracts and details of persons having interest in the land) were filed under the ULCA in the Pune urban agglomeration.

The probe was handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in November 2005. The investigating officer, then deputy superintendent with the CID, Avinash Mokashi, had recommended Mhase’s arrest and that of five others on March 7, 2007.

At the time, Patil had assured the state Assembly that the process of arresting the six accused was on, Bhandari’s lawyer, Ganesh Sovani, said. Mhase, however, is still Patil’s officer on special duty.

The petition alleges that a meeting took place in Patil’s chamber at Mantralaya on September 26, 2009, and was attended by then CID chief SPS Yadav, who is now commissioner of police, Thane, and Mokashi. Mokashi, in an affidavit filed earlier, had said that after the meeting Yadav passed an order staying the arrests.

Benjamin’s affidavit also said that the government has decided to register separate complaints in all the 30 cases forwarded by the CID and inquired into by the state appointed committee probing the allegations.

The state will also appoint a one-man committee to inquire into three cases in which orders have been passed by a competent authority for the cantonment area, the affidavit said.

Following a high court order on January 18, nine first information reports have already been registered with the Swargate police. A division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice UD Salvi asked public prosecutor Pandurang Pol to give the names of the officers who will probe these cases.