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COURT ORDERS FIR AGAINST VISHWAS PATIL, THEN CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SRA– LANDMARK ORDER – SANCTION NOT REQUIRED FOR OFFICERS WHO HAVE BEEN TRANSFERRED

 
The Special Judge (Under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988), Shri A.D. Tankhiwale, has, vide his order dated 24 July, 2017, ordered that a First Information Report be registered by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, against the following persons:



(A)  Vishwas Patil, IAS, Then Collector, Mumbai             Suburban District, also Chief Executive Officer,        Slum Rehabilitation Authority, Mumbai.



(B)  Chandrasena Vishwas Patil, wife of (A) above.

(C)  Ramji H. Shah, Developer.



(D)  Rasesh B. Kanakia, Developer.



     The First Information Report, has to be registered for criminal conspiracy under section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 read with under Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 i.e. Criminal Misconduct by a Public Servant, and Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 i.e. Criminal Breach of Trust by a Public Servant.



ALLEGATIONS:



ALLEGATION NO. 1:



THAT the then Collector of Mumbai Suburban District, Shri Vishwas Patil did the conveyance of government land situated at Malad East, Mumbai in favour of Developer Ramji Shah, after the wife of Shri Patil was made Director in the Company controlled by Ramji Shah. This land was further given for development to Rasesh B. Kanakia, who is constructing a luxury residential project therein by the name of ‘Kanakia Levels’.



ALLEGATION NO. 2:



THAT this was a Slum Rehabilitation Scheme, where a plot of land is divided into a slum plot and a sale plot. As per rules the Floor Space Index (FSI) in an SRA scheme was 3.0. Therefore, FSI on both the plots has to be the same. In other words, the area of the respective plot has to be in such a manner that FSI does not exceed ‘3’ in each plot and thereby the FSI is balanced.

Notwithstanding the above, when Shri Patil did the conveyance of land, he gave a larger area to sale plot, where Accused Rasesh B. Kanakia is constructing the luxury project namely, Kanakia Levels. More specifically, the then Collector of Mumbai, Shri Patil gave the sale plot an area of 16,441 square metres whereas for mainatinign the FSI balance, it ought to have been given an area of 11,340 square metres. In other words, the plot where ‘Kanakia Levels’ is being constructed got 44% larger land area.



ARGUMENTS MADE BY SHRI J.V. DESAI, PUBLIC PROSECUTOR FOR GOVERNMENT OF MAHARASHTRA AND THE ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAU:



The main argument made by the Public Prosecutor Shri J.V. Desai, for the Anti-Corruption Bureau was that no case could be registered against the public servant without previous sanction of the Government. He cited the recent amendment done by the Government of Maharashtra, of section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, where a prior sanction has been mandated.



ARGUMENTS MADE BY ADVOCATE ADITYA PRATAP, COUNSEL FOR THE COMPLAINANT:



The main argument of Shri Aditya Pratap, Counsel for the Complainant was that, the requirement of sanction was there only so long as a person was in the post where he committed the alleged act of corruption. If the officer is transferred, then he loses this protection. Since, the allegations related to Shri Patil when he was the Collector of Mumbai Suburban District, and since he had got transferred from there and was at the time of filing complaint was occupying the post of Chief Executive Officer, Slum Rehabilitation Authority, hence the protection was sanction would not be applicable to him.



OBSERVATION OF SHRI A.D. TANKHIWALE, HON'BLE SPECIAL JUDGE, ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ORDER OF THE COURT:


The Hon'ble Special Judge upheld the argument of Advocate Aditya Pratap, that the requirement of sanction would cease once the officer is transferred out from the post, to which the allegations of corruption relate. Accordingly, the following order was made by the Court:



1. Miscellaneous Application stands allowed.



2.  The complaint be referred to Anti-Corruption Bureau authorities, Mumbai, to register FIR and to investigate the offence under section 156(3) of the Cr. P.C.



3.    The Investigating Officer to complete investigation within  two months.





DETAILS OF THE COMPLAINANT:


This complaint was filed by Shri Hitendra Yadav, who is an occupant of a shop, under section 39 of the Cr.P.C.  and who got this information from local sources. This information was developed into a legally actionable information with the help of activist Santosh Daundkar. The efforts of the whistle-blowers of this case is worthy of appreciation. If more such people come forward, then the frauds in SRA Schemes would come down.



COMMENTS:
 

         This is a landmark order because, the senior level functionaries, particularly, IAS and IPS officers of the government had been under the impression that they had the protection of prior sanction from government before any FIR was registered against them.



            This Order makes it clear that the protection to such officers would be available only so long as the public servant occupies the post to which the allegations relate. Once transferred from that post they lose the protection of sanction.



            With this Order, hundreds of cases which are awaiting sanction with the government, shall get expedited because in most of the cases the accused have been transferred out to another positions since the maximum tenure allowed under the Maharashtra Government Servants Regulation of Transfer and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act, 2005 is three years and most of such cases awaiting sanction are more than 3 years.

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