Two years after Hema Malini refused land in Andheri, Maharashtra yet to cancel allotment
A Right to Information query revealed that the Mumbai suburban district collector – under whose jurisdiction the Andheri plot is located – and the state revenue department have not received any communication from actor-BJP MP Hema Malini saying she does not want the land allotted to her.Updated: Jan 28, 2019 11:30 IST
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A little over two years after actor and BJP MP Hema Malini refused to take possession of a plot of land earmarked for her proposed dance school in Andheri in suburban Mumbai, the state government is yet to cancel the allotment. A Right to Information query also revealed that the Mumbai suburban district collector – under whose jurisdiction the plot is located – and the state revenue department have not received any communication from Malini saying she does not want the land allotted to her.
In January 2016, through a Right to Information (RTI) application by Mumbai activist Anil Galgali, it came to light that a 2,000 square-metre plot of land was allocated to Hema Malini for Rs 1.75 lakh, when the market price of the plot was in the range of Rs 40-50 crore at 2016 rates. According to the RTI response, the land price was calculated at rates prevailing in 1976, and followed a policy made in 1983 and later revised in 1984. Following an uproar, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that he had directed government officials to cancel the 1983 government resolution (GR) and issue a new policy based on current market rates.
In October 2016, the government, through the state public prosecutor PP Kakade, had informed the Bombay High Court that Hema Malini is no longer interested in the plot of land. Based on this, the high court had, on October 21, 2016, disposed of a petition challenging the allotment. The case was heard by the then chief justice Manjula Chellur. Justice Chellur’s judgment said: “According to the learned government advocate, the first respondent (Hema Malini) has refused to take the land in question offered by the state. In that matter, nothing remains for consideration in the PIL.” The court had asked the petitioners to approach it again, if they found that the plot was again offered by the government and taken by the actor.
Now, in 2019, Hindustan Times has obtained four letters from the Mumbai Collector’s (Suburban) office through a Right to Information query, which state that the suburban district collector has not received any communication from Malini informing his office that she is not interested in the plot of land. Neither has Malini sent any such letter to the state revenue department, which originally allocated her the plot.
HT reached out to Malini over the phone, text messages and email on Thursday, January 24, but did not receive any response from her until the time of going to press on Sunday, January 27.
According to the RTI response, the suburban collector (a post then held by Deependra Kushwaha) wrote the first letter in this matter on July 29, 2017, asking relevant authorities, including the decree department of the Bombay High Court, the public prosecutor, and the state revenue department that owns the land, to hand over documents, based on which Kakade told the high court that the actor has refused to take up the plot. The fourth letter in this series was sent as a reminder to the public prosecutor on October 9, 2018. The collector’s office has not received a response so far.
When contacted, Kakade – the public prosecutor – refused to comment. “It is an internal matter and I cannot share anything with you. I will reply to the collector’s letter soon,” he told HT. A senior official from the suburban collector’s office told HT, “The state revenue department has asked us to submit a report on the issue.”
Manukumar Srivastava, additional chief secretary, revenue department, admitted that this issue was pending. “We have not received any proposal from the collector yet over cancellation of the said allotment,” he told HT. “Once we get the report, we will take appropriate action.” The current suburban collector Sachin Kurve refused to comment.
This was the second time Hema Malini – a Bharatanatyam exponent – had requested land from the state government for a dance school. In December 1996, she was allotted an 1800 square-metre plot in Andheri. This could not be developed due to coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules. Following this, she requested for another plot. She handed over possession of the first plot on February 24, 2016, one of the pre-conditions for getting possession of the fresh allotment.
The actor has also fulfilled all the four conditions imposed on her to get possession of the Andheri plot, based on which the collector’s office on September 20, 2016, had sought approval from the revenue department to hand over plot to her. “By then, the allotment was challenged, so we could never hand over the land. We decided to wait for the court’s order,” said another revenue official, who did not want to be named.
However, two years and three months after the court’s order, the land remains allotted to the actor. The allotment was made to her through her charitable trust Natya Vihar Kala Kendra.
The state government had said at the time that its decision was based on norms granting plots to charitable trusts.
In Maharashtra, charitable trusts have to pay only 25 per cent of total cost of the allotted land to be calculated as per the rates on February 1, 1976. The cost of the land, according to this calculation, was Rs 350 per square metre, while the market rate in 2016 was in excess of over Rs2lakh per square metre.
First Published: Jan 28, 2019 11:29 IST