HC admits plea challenging dereservation of plot for policemen

The Maharashtra government on Monday informed the Bombay High Court that it proposed to provide houses to 80 per cent policemen here in the next four years.

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Monday informed the Bombay High Court that it proposed to provide houses to 80 per cent policemen here in the next four years.

Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol informed a bench headed by Justice B H Marlapalle that this provision was made by the government in a GR issued in 2009. The bench thereupon
admitted a petition challenging dereservation of a plot earmarked for police quarters in posh Juhu area and its subsequent sale to a private developer.

The bench tagged this petition to a PIL on the similar issue and kept both matters for final hearing on September 30. The court was informed that the land reserved for police housing was dereserved and alloted to a society formed for IPS officers. However, the then Police Commissioner had written a letter to home department suggesting that while
dereserving this plot, condition may be imposed on IPS officers not to occupy quarters while they were posted in the city.
Forty-six per cent of the force live in quarters now. The bench wanted to know whether this condition was met and asked Home Secretary to ensure it was complied with.
Petitioner Ketan Tirodkar also drew the court`s attention towards the 2009 GR which said in view of shortage of land for police quarters FSI was increased in Mumbai, Thane
and Pune. The GR also said 46 percent policemen live in slums.

There are 1,83,679 policemen in the state government`s service of which only around 83,000 have access to government accommodations. Earlier, the government had asserted that enough land was available for housing policemen and justified dereservation of the plot meant for police quarters in Juhu.

Tirodkar alleged there were more than 50 such plots which had been dereserved and sold to private builders. However, the government denied the allegation and said Tirodkar had not provided details of these 50 plots.
In an affidavit, Joint Secretary (Home) B R Wadhawe said the dereservation of the plot at Juhu was done by the state in 2003 as there was sufficient land available for police housing. Also, no budgetary allocation had been made for acquiring the plot although the land was reserved for more than 20 years, he said.

The petition was based on an RTI reply from the office of Mumbai Police Commissioner according to which plot 194 A at Juhu Vile Parle Development Scheme, reserved for police quarters, had been dereserved by the state and alloted to Akruti builders.

The petition further alleged that two 11-storeyed towers now stood on this plot of land. It argued that dereservation should not have taken place particularly in view of the fact that there is shortage of quarters for policemen. Tirodkar alleged the case was only the tip of the iceberg and there were many such cases in which land meant for gardens or police housing had been dereserved and sold to developers.

The petition prayed that government officers and politicians responsible for making such dereservations should be booked under IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.


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