The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the state govt to file its reply on a plea alleging corruption in allotment of public parking lots by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and minister of state for urban development department (UDD) Bhaskar Jadhav.
The division bench of justices VM Kanade and PD Kode asked additional govt pleader Geeta Shastri to file the reply within four weeks after hearing a PIL by social activist Pravin Wategaonkar, who submitted additional documents acquired under Right to Information, showing how files had been withheld/kept pending by the CM for about 3 to 14 months after they had reached him duly scrutinised, first by the BMC empowered committee and then by UDD officials.
Wategaonkar had filed additional affidavit last week along with documents showing that the files were withheld after principal secretary, UDD, had clearly remarked that they were okay and could be approved.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Wategaonkar argued that the proposals of M/s Runwal Developers, Wadhwa Residency and Lodha Developers for construction of public parking lots at Mulund, Ghatkopar and Altmount Road, respectively had been cleared within 3-5 months.
However, proposals of lesser known developers took 8 to 14 months for clearance, although they had been received around the same time. "This was withheld even after all authorities had cleared the proposal," argued Wategaonkar.
"This deliberate withholding/pending of files by the CM gave room for a person close to/relative of CM, Shri Rohan Jagdale, to negotiate with builders, and after collecting money/reaching an understanding with them through Shri Rohan Jagdale, the pending proposals of only those builders, who had paid/agreed to pay, was cleared by CM," reads his affidavit.
He further alleged that the entire sanctioning of proposals since Chavan had become the CM, was vitiated due to arbitrariness, nepotism, mala-fides, loss to the exchequer and corruption, and is against public interest.
Wategaonkar has sought forensic audit of books of accounts of all developers whose proposals had been sanctioned to detect bribes/speed money paid. Till such audit takes place, status quo should be maintained in respect of the public parking lot proposals, he has said.
The PIL alleges that the CM and the UDD minister in connivance with each other had been charging exorbitant amounts for sanctioning proposals for allotment of public parking lots. It has also sought probe under the Prevention of Corruption Act to be initiated against the alleged offenders.