Pune land scam may be bigger than Adarsh, 2G: HC Read more: Pune land scam may be bi

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    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    MUMBAI: Looking at the magnitude of the Pune Urban Land Ceiling (Regulation) Act (ULCRA) scam, which might run into more than Rs 300 crore, the Bombay high court said it might hand over the probe to the CBI.

    "We feel that this land irregularity might be even bigger than the Adarsh housing society or the 2G Spectrum cases," said a division bench of Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice U D Salvi.

    In this case, alleged bogus orders were passed by government officials to exempt land in Pune from being acquired by the state under the new repealed ULCRA. The bench said lakhs of square m of land, which could have been used to house the poor, seemed to have been "freed" on the basis of bogus ULCRA orders and utilized for "private use".

    The court's response came after the judges went through the report submitted by the one-man committee of IAS officer Sudhakar Joshi. The division bench said it would decide on transferring the case to the CBI after it heard the view of state advocate-general Ravi Kadam.

    The HC also directed the CBI officers to be in court during the next hearing on February 10. The judges also mentioned the involvement of a former minister of state-a minister when the Shiv Sena-BJP was in rein-who had signed some of the orders that went in appeal. The court asked public prosecutor Pandurang Pol to go through Joshi's report.

    The court was hearing a PIL filed by BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari who claimed that the CID inquiry into the land scam, which first came to light in 2005, had not yielded much results. According to the petitioner's lawyer Ganesh Sovani, over 11,000 orders were passed under the now-repealed ULCRA from 1976 to 2005. Before the law was repealed, an individual could hold only 500 sq m land and any excess area was declared surplus.

    That land could be acquired by the state to house the poor. In the petition, advocate Sovani claimed that fake bogus orders were filed, showing that large tracts were "non-surplus", thereby giving complete exemption to owners from surrendering their surplus plots to the state. The PIL alleged that senior government officials had connived with builders and real estate agents to grab the plots.

    An additional collector blew the lid off the scam in 2005 when he discovered a forged and fabricated certificate under the ULCRA, declaring a plot near Pune as non-surplus. The case was subsequently transferred to the CID. In another case, a Kalate family was found to have benefited from a similar forged order. The Kalates had to pay a fine of over Rs 8 crore. "If the penalty from one accused could enrich the state exchequer by Rs 8 crore, the 300 files awaiting a scrutiny by the state CID can yield lots of money for the state coffers," claimed the PIL.

    During the last hearing, the high court had asked the state to register FIRs in 18 cases where bogus orders were used. Of the 29 files shortlisted, FIRs were filed in 11 cases.

    Before the ULCRA was repealed, an individual could hold only 500 sq m land. The excess area had to be declared as surplus and that could be acquired by the state to house the poor. In Pune, from 1976 to 2005, hundreds of orders were fabricated to show that the extra land was "non surplus" and that exempted certain land owners from surrendering their surplus areas to the state. The PIL alleged that senior government officials connived with builders and real estate agents and did not let the state acquire the extra land. The petition has claimed that the scam runs into over Rs 300 crore.

    Read more: Pune land scam may be bigger than Adarsh, 2G: HC - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...h-2G-HC/articleshow/7448114.cms#ixzz1DL7fXL5H
     
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