Mumbai: In an embarrassment to Maharashtra
Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, the Bombay High Court on Friday set
aside an order passed by him in 2007 regarding a 5-acre plot
near the international airport here.
Rane had reviewed his 1998 order, then as a Revenue
Minister in the Sena-BJP government, and held that the land in
suburban Sahar near the international airport belonged to a
private party and not the state.
The division bench of Justices F I Rebello and J H Bhatia
today held that Rane`s act of recalling his own earlier order
for review was "illegal and arbitrary".
The land would continue to belong to the government,
subject to the outcome of the case which is pending in the
civil court, the court said.
Two social activists, Chetan Kamble and Vilas Devrukhkar,
had challenged Rane`s 2007 decision in a PIL.
According to the petitioners, the land in question was
declared to be a government land way back in 1953, and by
subsequent court rulings.
In 1995, a local resident, Gonsalves, filed an appeal
before Revenue Minister Sudhir Joshi (in Joshi`s capacity as
appellate authority in land revenue cases). Joshi, a senior
Sena leader, held that land belonged to the Gonsalves family.
But in 1998, when the matter came up before Rane, he
reversed Joshi`s decision and said the land belonged to the
Esteem Properties, which had bought the land from the
family, challenged Rane`s decision in the High Court. In 2007,
it sought liberty to withdraw the case, saying it wanted to
approach the Revenue Minister again. Court allowed it.
Matter again landed up before Rane, who then said that
"as per High Court`s directions", the land was a private
Kamble`s lawyer, Uday Warunjikar, pointed out that this
was a misinterpretation of the court order. High Court never
gave any "direction", he said.
The court today held that in the first place, Rane should
not have entertained the review petition because suit was
pending before it.
It further held that Esteem Properties was not a party to
the earlier decision in 1998. So, it did not have any right to
seek a review of the minister`s earlier order.