Maharashtra MLC Dhananjay Munde
Maharashtra MLC Dhananjay Munde

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday stayed the Bombay High Court's order directing registration of a case against Maharashtra MLC and NCP leader Dhananjay Munde for alleged illegal purchase of government land.

A vacation bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and Surya Kant sought response from the Maharashtra government on Munde's plea seeking stay on the high court order directing police to file a case against him for allegedly purchasing a land at Pus village in Ambajogai tehsil of Beed district. The bench said that the high court cannot pass such orders under Article 226 of the Constitution in disregard to the CrPC.

"Power under Article 226 of the high court are to be used sparingly. It's not the 'Ram Baan' (panacea)," the bench said. The high court had on Tuesday passed an order for registration of a case against Munde on a plea filed by one Rajabhau Phad, who alleged that the land which belonged to the government was purchased and given to the Belkhandi Math in Beed as gift.

As per law, the land cannot be transferred without the government's permission, the initial petition had said. Heirs of Ranit Wyanka Giri, the mahant of the Belkhandi Math, transferred the land in their names and claimed that they were its owners and the government was not informed about it, according to the petition.

The land was later bought by Munde on the basis of a general power of attorney in 2012. Munde applied for non-agricultural status (NA) of the land and got it, the petition had alleged. Phad had approached the Bardapur police station in Beed seeking a criminal case to be lodged against Munde, his wife and others.

However, when the police failed to initiate a probe, Phad approached the high court claiming that the land originally belonged to the government and hence, cannot be sold to anyone. He had sought an FIR be lodged under IPC Sections 420 (cheating), 467, 468 and 471 (forgery) against Munde, his wife and 15 others.

Munde's lawyer Siddheshwar Thombre had said there was a dispute between the then Math mahant and priest of the trust on this land. He had said the matter was taken to court and on the basis of decree, another person became the owner of the land, adding that in 2012, Munde bought the land from that person by adhering to all legal procedures.

It was not mentioned anywhere that the land belonged to the government, Munde's lawyer had said while asserting that the entire process was legal. The high court's Aurangabad bench, however, had said prima facie it appears the government land was usurped and hence, directed the Bardapur police to file a case against Munde and others and probe the allegations.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal