The Maharashtra government has denied allegations of corruption in allotment of public parking lots and said that it doesn't clear files on a "first-come-first-serve basis" and that the entire process is very transparent.
The state conveyed this to the Bombay High Court through an affidavit filed by Rajan Kop, joint secretary, urban development department (UDD). It was responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) by social activist Pravin Wategaonkar.
Citing information obtained under the Right to Information Act, Wategaonkar has alleged that the chief minister had withheld/kept pending files between three and 14 months after they had reached him duly scrutinised, first by the BMC and then by the UDD.
The affidavit says that cases submitted to the government for approval are not necessarily disposed of on a first-come-first basis since every case has its own merits and demerits.
"The process of obtaining reports from various authorities as well as the process of intra-department consultation as found necessary for taking decision on different cases may take varying amount of time' resulting in their disposal is non-chronological order," reads the affidavit.
The government has said that the PIL has been been filed with ulterior motive and without substance. The affidavit goes to explain that there is well-established procedures for submission of files to the government for consideration and approval.
Refuting the allegation that the CM's office sits on files, Kop's affidavit states that the files are submitted to the ministers (concerned)/ Chief Minister through principal secretary/ secretary of the department for their clearance "after proper scrutiny" of the same.
"Incomplete files or files not satisfying they procedural requirements may remain pending or kept pending for compliance and after compliance they are submitted accordingly," adds the affidavit.
Wategaonkar had alleged that the proposals of Runwal Developers, Wadhwa Residency and Lodha Developers for constructing public parking lots at Mulund, Ghatkopar and Altamount Road, respectively, had been cleared within three to five months. However, other proposals of lesser-known builders took between eight and 14 months for clearance although they had been received around the same time.
Interestingly, the affidavit adds, that they have not received any application or complaint from "any interested persons, owners/developers of the projects" in respect of clearance or pendency of their proposals.
A division bench of justices VM Kanade and PD Kode has kept the PIL for hearing on August 28.