HC to deal with pending issues which brought NIT into ignominy

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Sep 2017 10:12:44


Staff Reporter,

After a gap of many years, Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court will once again hear a suo-motu PIL based on 28-part series published by The Hitavada in 2004 about bunglings in Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT). The news-series based on CAG report dealt with gross abuse of power, brazen favouritism in allotment of public utility lands to politically influential individuals and their institutions throwing all norms to wind, misuse of power in managing the affairs of NIT, tweaking norms to shower favours on near and dear ones of those ruling NIT a decade ago. The series had badly exposed the murky affairs within NIT and how a powerful group of officers and then ruling party politicians gobbled prime plots, made mockery of development plan and were instrumental for haphazard development of Nagpur.

The news-series had rocked the NIT and it was submitted to High Court by a vigilant citizen Anil Wadpalliwar and was treated as PIL and later led to appointment of in-house one-man committee headed by then Additional Chief Secretary Navin Kumar to probe at least eight irregularities. The report turned out to be damp squib and Amicus Curiae Anand Parchure had sought rejection of this report.

The matter came up for hearing before a division bench consisting Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Arun Upadhye. During last one decade, several civil applications, intervention applications dealing with variety of subjects from misuse of Gunthewari Act to delete reservation of more than 1.50 crore sq ft land to rampant corruption within NIT were raised. Absence of land disposal rules in NIT and lack of clear policy to allot public utility lands was also one of the issues about which High Court had passed several orders in the past.

The High Court has now asked Amicus Curiae Anand Parchure to crystallize the surviving issue before the court within a week. Adv Makrand Agnihotri appearing in PIL filed by Chetan Rajkarne which alleged that NIT failed to respond to audit para objection raised by CAG in 2004 even till 2015 and trust failed to take any corrective steps even after passage of one decade. NIT counsel Mukesh Samarth stated that the trust has already implemented the major recommendations made by Navin Kumar panel, land disposal rules were amended and processes were updated. He also sought some time to place on record compliances, if any, with audit objections.

Amicus Curiae Anand Parchure, Adv Makrand Agnihotri (Rajkarne), Adv Mukesh Samarth (NIT), Adv Sudhir Puranik (NMC), Adv A B Patil appeared in the matter