Rane denies land grab charge, offers to return it to temple

Last Updated: Saturday, October 30, 2010 - 20:19

Mumbai: Faced with land grab charge against
his wife, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane on Saturday
denied any wrongdoing but offered to surrender it to the
temple trust, which has levelled the allegation, if it so
wants.

The temple trust situated in Mahabaleshwar has filed a
petition in the Bombay High Court alleging a piece of land
belonging to it was illegally sold to Nilam Rane.
"The land deal was completely transparent and legal. But
if the temple trust wants the land, I would give it to them
with permission from the Court," Rane told reporters.

Rane`s statement comes a day after an embattled Chief
Minister Ashok Chavan, whose alleged role in Adarsh Housing
Society scam threatens to cost him is job, announced that
flats allotted to his relatives in the tower in upmarket
Colaba meant for Kargil veterans and war widows were being
surrendered.

The entire controversy involving Rane`s wife is over a
half acre plot--survey number 109--which, according to the
Revenue Minister, was in possession of Radhabai Mahabaleshwar
prior to 1945 when Sureshchandra Panchal bought it. In 1985,
the land came to be wrongly registered in the name of temple
trust against which Panchal had filed a complaint.

Following Panchal`s complaint, the record was amended by
the Revenue Department in 2008, Rane claimed.
Nilam bought almost half acre (18 guntha) from Panchal
for Rs 1.4 lakh 15 years back since he needed money for
treatment of his ailing son, Rane, a former Chief Minister,
said, denying charges of any foul play.

The HC had yesterday stayed the sale transaction between
Panchal and Rane and directed that no further development will
take place on the land till further orders.

According to the Shrikshetra Mahabaleshwar Devasthan
Trust, which has moved the HC, the entry in the land records
showing the land as belonging to it was deleted in 2008 by the
Revenue Department for no reason and without giving the trust
any hearing.

The Trust manages several temple properties in and around
Mahabaleshwar, a popular hill station in the state.

The petition claims the land in question was "Inam Land"
(land granted to temple by a local ruler) and was in its
possession since the days of King Shivaji.

However, last year, the Trust came to know that in the
`record of rights`, a mutation entry was effected on June 9
2008, showing that this land, measuring around two acres was
now in the name of Mahesh B Panchal, a resident of Vasai
near Mumbai.
Further, the entry showed that out of this, half an
acre land had been sold by Panchal to Nilima Rane.

According to advocate Nitin Jamdar, petitioner`s
lawyer, the change in the land record came about without any
notice to the Trust.

The trust also found out that prior to the mutation
entry, P S Kamble, a desk officer in revenue department,
had passed an order directing collector to delete the land
from list of Inam lands belonging to the trust. This order was
purportedly based on collector`s report, and even state
advocate general`s opinion.

Considering that part of the disputed land was eventually
sold to the Revenue Minister`s wife, the whole exercise was
"malafide", and "speaks for itself", the petition alleges.

The petition will come up for hearing after Diwali.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, October 30, 2010 - 20:19

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