The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday issued notice to the Maharashtra government on a petition challenging the order of the Bombay High Court (HC) which had refused to interfere with permission granted to Lavasa Corporation Limited to develop it as a hill station.
A division bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna on Monday while issuing notices, asked the respondents to file their replies in four weeks and kept the matter for hearing after six weeks.
The HC, in February this year, had observed that there seemed exertion of “influence and clout” of the Pawar family in the development of Lavasa as a hill station in 2002, but had refused to interfere with the same due to “gross delay” in the filing of the plea and considering that “third party rights have been created”.
Nanasaheb Jadhav and others filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the SC against the order of the HC. The SLP contends that the affected farmers have been subjected to grave injustice since the lands of 18 villages notified as hill stations were sold at paltry sums to the Corporation in 2002.
Due to the influence of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Member of Parliament Supriya Sule and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, officials of the state government and Maharashtra Krishan Valley Development Corporation had taken decisions against the law and against public interest, alleged the SLP. Along with Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule, the plea has added Sharad Pawar also as a respondent.
It further contends that the Lavasa Lake City project was being developed in complete contravention of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, 1966 and the Maharashtra Krishan Valley Development Corporation Act, 1996.
The HC had dismissed the plea on hyper-technical grounds of gross delay. Even though it (HC) acknowledged that the systematic abuse of power amounted to breach of the Public Trust Doctrine, it has “miserably failed to pierce the veil and the functional immunity accorded to the holders of public offices to hold them accountable and has failed to attribute even an iota of responsibility for their continuous grave wrongs”, contended the SLP.
The SLP has sought that the SC stay the construction in the 18 villages.
The plea points out that the Lavasa Corporation Limited had filed insolvency proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). Hence, the SLP has prayed that the NCLT be directed not to proceed further until the disposal of the present petition, so that no third party rights are created.
The HC, in February this year, in a detailed order, had said: In the absence of the “unrebutted allegations”, “…we are left to judge the veracity of the allegations on tests of probability without anything more substantial by way of answer. Shri Sharad Pawar and Smt. Supriya Sule being personally interested in the project of the hill station, it is proved by preponderance of probability that the allegations are true.”