HC gives final extension to ACB to finish land case of Hiranandani
The Bombay HC has granted final extension to ACB to complete investigations and submit a final report in the case lodged against Thomas Benjamin and Hiranandani group
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has granted final extension of time to state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to complete investigations and submit a final report in the case lodged against former senior Maharashtra bureaucrat Thomas Benjamin and developers Hiranandani group.
A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and G S Patel was hearing a petition filed by Benjamin seeking to quash a special court order asking ACB to probe allegations leveled against him and Hiranandani group in a multi-crore land scam.
On August 26 this year, ACB’s Additional Superintendent Vijay Bhoite had assured the court that investigations into the case would be completed within eight weeks and a final report would be submitted before the special court. On the basis of this statement, Benjamin withdrew the petition.
However, on October 25 the court was informed that the probe was still on and further time would be required.
“One final extension is granted to comply with the statement and undertaking given to this court on August 26, 2013. Accordingly time is extended by four weeks,” the court directed.
On the last occasion, the High Court had refused relief to Benjamin after observing that public interest is paramount.
Benjamin, the then Principal Secretary in the Urban Development Department, is accused of not taking action against Niranjan Hiranandani who allegedly built luxury flats in suburban Powai in the breach of a tripartite agreement among the builder, the state government and MMRDA.
A special ACB court had in July last year ordered an inquiry against Benjamin and Hiranandani. The inquiry order was passed under section 156 (3) of CrPc on a complaint made by activist Santosh Daundkar. ACB filed an FIR against Benjamin and Hiranandani on July 5 last year.
Daundkar’s complaint said the state had announced in 1977 the Powai Housing Development Scheme for economically weaker sections that was to be implemented over 140 hectares in Powai, Kopri and Tirandaz.
In 1986, the state government had signed an agreement with Hiranandani and handed over 230 acre of land to them.