Why so much time to consider Gilani panel report? HC poser to NIT

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Oct 2018 10:09:48


Staff Reporter,

NIT board yet to consider report over irregularities in PU plots allotment

Rapping the Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) for “Taking too much of time to look into (Justice M N Gilani panel) report,” Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday virtually put the NIT board on notice while expressing displeasure over inordinate delay in considering report of Justice (retd) M N Gilani, appointed by the High Court to probe irregularities in allotment of public utility (PU) plots to politically influential individuals.

During last hearing, the NIT had informed that Gilani panel had made several recommendations about vacant plots, where alleged irregularities had taken place, procedural lapses were detected and therefore the Board would seriously study the report and formulate its response. Since the report is quite voluminous it needs deeper scrutiny the
NIT has stated while seeking more time.  However, on Wednesday the NIT again sought one weeks time and claimed that board was yet to meet to consider
the report.

Amicus Curiae Anand Parchure strongly opposed the request and pointed out that NIT was delaying the process of fixing the responsibility on erring officers. A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice M G Giratkar while granting two weeks time also warned that if NIT fail to take proper decision within stipulated time the Court would “pass suitable orders.” The High Court also directed NIT to deposit Rs 2 lakh with the Registry towards remuneration of Justice M N Gilani.

It may be recalled that the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court had appointed Justice (retd) M N Gilani vide orders dated October 4, 2017 and December 6, 2017 to probe allotment of 85 PU plots situated in prime localities by NIT in improper and irregular manner to prominent politicians and those close to power circle on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a vigilant citizen Anil Wadpalliwar on the basis of a 28-part news-series by The Hitavada exposing bunglings in NIT. Adv Anand Parchure (Amicus Curiae), Adv Makrand Agnihotri (another petitioner), Senior Counsel S K Mishra and Adv Mukesh Samarth (NIT), Adv Sudhir Puranik (NMC) appeared in the matter.

‘Every allotment of PU was irregular’

In his hard-hitting report running into 121 pages, Justice Gilani found irregularity in practically every allotment and lambasted NIT, which was the Planning Authority for Nagpur till February 2002, for “frustrating the very objective of Development Plan” and becoming a mute spectator to brazen commercial misuse of the PU plots by politically influential allottees. The panel recommended constituting a panel to streamline future allotment of PU plots in a just and fair manner to ensure its proper use and to preserve natural resources like open spaces, play grounds and to maintain green cover of the city. The panel found deviation and misuse in 113 Public Utility plots and in 20 cases despite allotment, the prime land remained vacant.

The panel had suggested NIT to immediately take possession of these 20 plots and also mooted re-investigation in some allotment cases. The panel also found that out of 305 PU plot allotted to various institutions, only 61 allottees informed the Charity Commissioner about receipt of such a land from NIT and thus around 250 allottees had violated the mandatory provision of the Maharashtra Public Trust Act and rules framed thereunder. This concealment and refusal to disclose income leads to an adverse inference, the report stated while recommending in-depth probe particularly as to why for years, the income derived from such land was not divulged.

‘Conduct Social audit of PU land’

The Gilani panel had also recommended that all allottees should mandatorily display that plot was allotted at concessional rate for a particular public purpose so that there should be constant social audit of every allotment. Besides for schools and educational institutions established on PU plots, Justice Gilani had recommended that at least 5 % seats in particular course, sanctioned intake or actual intake be reserved for poor. Besides for hospitals established on PU plots, at least 10 % beds should be reserved for patients belonging to economically weaker section and subsidised treatment should be provided to them.

Some past, present officers involved: Former NIT chief

Then NIT Chairman Dr Deepak Mhaisekar, in his affidavit, had admitted that some past and present senior officers of NIT were responsible for shady deals in allotting public utility (PU) lands and its subsequent misuse by political big-wigs to mint money.

The NIT Chairman after verifying all 85 files pertaining to PU plots in city reached to a prima-facie finding that “there are some lapses on the part of superannuated and present officers of Nagpur Improvement Trust.” In a cryptic affidavit filed before the High Court the NIT informed that initially show cause notices were issued to 19 superannuated and present officers and this number may vary in due course of time.

According to sources, at least 44 officers and staffers handing key responsibilities during last two decades are under scanner and NIT Chairman has already prepared a list of these officers and staffers. The Court had sought to know as to why no action was initiated against any NIT officer or staffer during last one decade.