|Mumbai: The Bombay high court has struck down the chief minister’s (CM’s) discretionary quota to allot houses in the state, calling the policy ‘arbitrary, and illegal’. A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and MS Sonak, in their 36-page judgment said: “In case of allotment of flats under the 2 per cent and 5 per cent discretionary quota, no steps were taken to provide equal opportunity to the public to get the benefits. The state government treated the scheme as a private venture.”
The CM’s discretionary quota has been in effect since 1986 with the last policy issued in 2011. As per the policy, a person is eligible for a house under the quota if he/she does not have a permanent house in the city. However, over the years, several cases of double allotment came to light. People belonging to the same family were either allotted flats in the same city or different cities. On the other hand, several eligible people, who had applied for flats under the scheme, remained on the waiting list.
As many as 12 petitions were filed separately which were later clubbed by the court to pass a common order. The petitions had challenged the government’s quota policy. Advocate Uday Warunjikar, appearing for one of the petitioners, Manohar Bait, argued that the information he got under the RTI Act stated that most of the beneficiaries of this scheme were either related to an MLA or an MP or were associated with political parties.
Warunjikar said even when the scheme was meant for the general public, it was not known to many since it was not advertised. The high court accepted the argument and said: “In several Supreme Court orders, it is stated that distribution of ‘state largesse’ should be done equally and reasonably. It should not be arbitrary; applications should be invited from the public, and advertisements should be given so as to offer an equal opportunity to avail the benefit of the same.”
The court dismissed the prayers seeking allotment of flats under the quota since there is no policy in existence.
Published Date: Mar 21, 2014