The Bombay High Court on Monday fixed for July 28 the final hearing on a PIL challenging double or multiple allotment of houses from the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s discretionary quota. A bench, headed by Justice Abhay Oka, asked petitioner Ketan Tirodkar to file an additional affidavit within a week and ordered the state to file further affidavit on July 25.
The directions came a week after the government informed that the HC that it had stopped allotting houses from the CM’s quota in keeping with the court’s order scrapping the state’s policy on the issue. The state had informed the court last week that those who secured flats from the CM’s discretionary quota on the basis of false declaration about not owning a house will now face prosecution.
In an affidavit, the government informed the bench about rescinding its decision to withdraw prosecution against double allottees if they surrendered one of the houses or, in case the flats had been sold, return the proceeds to the government equivalent to market value of the property.
On March 20, the high court had struck down the state’s policy for allotment of houses to the beneficiaries under the CM’s quota. Describing the policy as “illegal, irrational and unfair”, the court had asked the state to frame a new policy which should be transparent and fair.
The bench had also restrained the state from making further allotments from the CM’s quota under the policy struck down by the court. The court had observed in its March 20 order that the chief minister had “absolute and unfettered” discretion in allotment of houses, which was not fair. Members of the public should be informed that such schemes were available for them, it had said.
Under the CM’s discretionary quota, flats were being allotted to various categories of people such as freedom fighters, artists, sports persons, journalists and government employees. The PIL argued beneficiaries of flats under the CM’s quota were either related to MLAs or MPs or were influential politicians themselves and the common man did not benefit from those schemes.
The petitioner alleged the government had not taken action against those who had secured more than one flat after making false declarations, either by way of registering an FIR or cancelling the allotment. He said that the list of allottees submitted by the state to the court was not exhaustive and some names were missing.
The government had earlier filed two affidavits stating what action they had taken against such beneficiaries. One of affidavits said 14 cases had been identified wherein the same person or their spouse had been allotted more than one house under the CM’s five per cent quota.
In two of these cases, the affidavit said, action had been initiated. In one case, FIR had been filed against the allottee by the competent authority and, in the other, the state had taken back the tenement. The state is going to take appropriate legal action against the remaining allottees also, it said.