A Mulund resident has alleged that the 14 acres of land acquired by a trust for the welfare of cows has been misused and portion of it sold to a developer.
Champaklal Pujara has filed a first hand information in the Bombay High Court. A division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice R.V. More has directed the state government and Nathoolalji Charitable Trust to file their replies within two weeks.
According to petition, the land in Mulund was acquired by the trust in 1924 which was to be used for feeding, maintaining and protecting cows. As per the approved scheme, the property was not supposed to be leased for any purpose other than welfare of cows. And the lease would not extend beyond three years. The PIL alleges that in September 2008, the trust allegedly sold 12,400 sq m of land to a developer without permission from the charity commissioner.
Pujara’s advocates Ashish Mehta and Pooja Thorat argued that the trust land had not been used for the purpose for which it was acquired and 275 cows were kept in a cramped space of 700 sq m. They are bound by rope in a shabby and dilapidated shed having insufficient space to move or sit, said Mehta.
Janak Dwarkadas, counsel for the trust, alleged the petitioner had some vested interest in filing the PIL. Ravi Kadam, advocate general of the state, argued that the petitioner could approach the charity commissioner with any complaint before coming to the high court as it is a public charitable trust.
Mehta told the court that they had approached the charity commissioner in June 2009 and filed an application under the RTI Act seeking audit reports of the trust's accounts. “However, we have not got any reply,” said Mehta.
The PIL seeks a detailed inquiry be conducted into the accounts of the trust. Pending inquiry, restrain the trust from creating third party rights, seeks the PIL.