The Bombay High Court has asked Maharashtra government to issue guidelines for officers involved in implementing development projects to ensure that only genuine claimants get the fruits of the Resettlement Act.
The direction to Rehabilitation Secretary was given by a Bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel who observed a fraud was being committed by land grabbers to get lands from the state by putting up unwarranted claims.
The fraud was brought to light by Additional Government Pleader Nitin Deshpande while opposing contempt petition filed by Laxman Mohan, a resident of Pune district.
Explaining the fraud, the pleader said that before Maharashtra Resettlement of Project Displaced Persons Act came into force in 1976, the land had little market value and hence the project-hit people sought monetary compensation instead of plots for their land acquired by the state. They had even refused in writing to accept the land offered to them.
However, as real estate prices shot up in the recent times, displaced persons put up claims after many years asking for land while suppressing fact that they had accepted money as compensation.
As the state did not approve their claims, they moved the Court seeking order to clear their case within a specified time. The Court passed such orders and when decisions were still not taken, contempt petitions were filed by claimants.
Hearing one such contempt petition, the HC, on October 9, clarified that the time-frame set up by the court to clear such applications would not mean that reliefs sought must be granted. "It only means that applications would have to be dealt with in accordance of law."
"In the face of such clear directions and orders, we do not see how the state feels obliged to grant the reliefs, namely, to allot or hand over the lands to the claimants.
"In the garb of such directions, possibly all those who have given up the benefits and claims, are being benefited and enriched at the expense of those who are rendered homeless. The state is required to unearth such cases as this is nothing but a fraud. That fraud vitiates everything and thereafter, any order or directions to allot or grant land should not bind the state," the Judges said.