HC sets state 4-week deadline to file reply to land-grab allegation
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The Bombay HC on Friday gave the state government a last opportunity to file a reply to a petition by two agriculturists who alleged their land in Mugaon in Mulshi taluka of Pune district was usurped and then sold to Lavasa Corporation Limited (LCL).
The government is yet to file a reply to the petition by brothers Bandya and Babu Walhekar of Mulshi. They said they owned 10 hectares near the hill-station town of Lavasa and stated that some persons claiming to officials of the government and LCL had been threatening them to vacate their land since 2002. They were allegedly threatened that it will acquired by the government.
They said the land was declared surplus under the Maharashtra State Land Ceiling Act and allotted to them by the state government. The Walhekars challenged a showcause issued by a Sub-Divisional Officer, Maval, in 2010 for dispossessing them.
The brothers claimed that when they had gone to the sub-divisional officer in Maval in July 2010, they learnt their land had been sold to a Shetty family who later sold it to LCL. They claimed documents were fabricated and they had never sold the land.
They urged the court to quash a government notification of June 12, 2008 appointing LCL as special planning authority and asked it to appoint a government body instead.
The petitioners contended that statutory powers, like that of a planning authority, cannot be granted to LCL, a private company registered under the Companies Act, 1969. However, in an affidavit filed by Sunil Khadka, Assistant Vice-President (Land) for LCL, it was stated that a belated petition was filed at the behest of social activists and NGOs opposed to Lavasa, in order to blackmail them.
LCL opposed the quashing of the 2008 notification stating it was the government's policy decision and was not reversible.
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