Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday said in the Assembly the Opposition has “fallen flat on its face” in the Nagpur land allotment case after the Bombay High Court observed it had taken view of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde withdrawing a 2021 regularisation order linked to the episode, and closed the issue.
Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio, maintained there was no “scam” in the land allotment matter as alleged by the Opposition, which has been demanding Shinde’s resignation.
On December 14, the Nagpur bench of the High Court ordered status quo on a decision taken by Shinde, when he was a minister in the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, allotting land meant for slum-dwellers to private persons.
On Tuesday (December 20), Shinde said as the urban development minister in 2021, he had passed an order in which he did not recommend reducing or decreasing the rate of land in question, but noted that charges should be applied for the plot as per government rules.
The CM had said when it was brought to his notice that the land allotment matter was pending in the court, he cancelled his earlier order, dated April 20, 2021, on December 16, 2022. Chief Minister Shinde holds the urban development portfolio now also.
“Considering the fact that now the order of regularisation has been withdrawn by the Chief Minister as per his order dated 16-12-2022, we are of the view that the purpose of the order dated 14-12-2022 passed by this Court has been served and now this issue is close,” the HC observed on Thursday.
The court also observed that as regards to the issue of regularisation, the state government would be at liberty to decide the same in accordance with law depending upon the final outcome of the petition (related to the Nagpur land allotment case).
In the Assembly, with Shinde by his side Fadnavis welcomed the observations of the High Court and said “castles were being built in air” by the Opposition that there is a scam in the case.
“Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition had raised an objection against the Chief Minister in this house (Assembly). However, the HC has issued an order today. The Opposition has fallen flat and all the allegations levelled by them have turned out to be false and the High Court has also accepted the Chief Minister’s decision,” the deputy CM said.
The court’s order to maintain status quo on December 14 had given ammunition to the Opposition, particularly the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, which was seeking Shinde’s resignation and dubbing the allotment as a “scam”.
The court, in its order passed on December 14, noted that the court since 2004 has been monitoring land allotments made by the Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT), which comes under the urban development department, to politicians and other influential individuals. This was after a petition was filed alleging the NIT gave away land to politicians and others at meagre rates.
On December 14, the bench was informed by amicus curie (appointed by court to assist) advocate Anand Parchure that Shinde, during his tenure as the urban development minister, directed the NIT to give away land acquired for housing slum-dwellers to 16 private persons.
“If any such order as claimed is really passed then we would direct the authorities to maintain status quo till the next date,” the court had said.