Caution on selling public property
In the land-starved city of Mumbai, the settlement of any government land for a housing project has to be by public auction only so as to fetch the best price in the larger public interest, the Supreme Court observed while dismissing the appeal, Jaykrishna Industries vs State of Maharashtra. The 13-year-old dispute was between two contending real estate firms over a prime plot of land in the city. It was alleged by one party which was given the plot for a hotel that the allotment was changed due to political influence applied by its rival on the Mumbai Housing and Area Development Authority. The court confirmed the role of political influence when it wrote that the claim of the rival for settlement of a government property by way of a private largesse, without open advertisement, was completely unfounded in law. “Apparently, the negotiations were done by the board under political influence as evident from the letter of the firm read along with that of one Mohan Rawle, MP,” the apex court said. Since the value of the plot has shot up manifold during the litigation and the land use norms have changed, the authorities will have to go for fresh bids, the judgment said.