Govt prepares reply on office rent issue

None | ByDharmendra Jore, Mumbai
Oct 27, 2006 12:11 AM IST

Sources in the Public Works Department told that the law and judiciary department's help was being sought in preparing a reply reports Dharmendra Jore.

After being rapped by the Bombay High Court for leasing out its south Mumbai properties at lower rates to political parties, the state government is taking utmost care in preparing a detailed reply to be submitted to the court on November 7.

Sources in the Public Works Department told Hindustan Times that the law and judiciary department's help was being sought in preparing a reply.

The government, in its reply, would emphasise that political parties were not profit-making organisations and hence needed exemption on dues running into crores of rupees.

"Utmost care is being taken in filing the reply as the high court had questioned the chief minister's authority to offer relief to defaulter parties," said a top PWD official, requesting anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak to the press.

A spokesman for Chief Minister's Office (CMO) refused to comment as the matter was sub judice.

Significantly, the Congress is yet to pay accumulated dues of over Rs 3 crore as rent for offices of the state Congress and Mumbai region units in south Mumbai where the current market rent is Rs 150-Rs 200 per square feet.

The political parties are charged a mere Rs 6 per square feet.

"The chief minister is in a fix because he not only needs to bail his party out but also needs to help other parties," said an official in the CMO.

Deshmukh had granted a stay of recovery of dues after requests by several parties.

A petition was filed by Krantikari Jai Hind Sena after it was denied a place for office in south Mumbai.

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