No relief to bureaucrat, Bombay HC says public interest comes first

Saying that public interest is paramount, the Bombay High Court refused to grant relief to a senior Maharashtra bureaucrat.

Mumbai: Saying that public interest is paramount, the Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant relief to a senior Maharashtra bureaucrat who prayed for quashing a special court order asking ACB to probe allegations against him and a developer in a multi-crore land scam.

Hearing the petition of Thomas Benjamin, who is currently Additional Chief Secretary (Public Health), Justice S C Dharmadhikari said, "In public interest such a relief cannot be given."
The Anti-Corruption Bureau informed that it would file a report within eight weeks in a special court on probe against Benjamin in the alleged real estate scam.

A statement to this effect was made by prosecutor Aruna Pai before the court which took it on record and disposed of the petition.

Benjamin`s lawyer Satish Borulkar prayed for withdrawing the petition, which was allowed by the court.

Benjamin, the then principal secretary in the Urban Development Department, is accused of not taking action against Niranjan Hiranandani who allegedly built luxury flats in suburban Powai in the breach of a tripartite agreement among the builder, the state government and MMRDA.

A special ACB court had in July last year ordered an inquiry against Benjamin and Hiranandani. The inquiry order was passed under section 156 (3) of CrPc on a complaint made by activist Santosh Daundkar. ACB filed an FIR against Benjamin and Hiranandani on July 5 last year.

Daundkar`s complaint said, the state had announced in 1977 the Powai Housing Development Scheme for economically weaker sections that was to be implemented over 140 hectares in Powai, Kopri and Tirandaz. In 1986, the state had signed an agreement with Hiranandani and handed over 230 acres.


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