Gujarat Global News Network, Ahmedabad
The Gujarat High Court has referred the matter of allotment of plots to judges to a larger bench. The HC had on Monday issued notices to 27 sitting as well as former judges, including that of the Supreme Court, over allotment of residential plots in the city. The court also issued notice to the state government.
The division bench headed by acting Chief Justice V M Sahai said that certain issues need to be investigated. In this case the bench converted letters written by two former High Court judges into a public interest litigation.
The letters, written by B J Shethna, former judge of Gujarat High Courts, and K R Vyas, former Chief Justice, Bombay High Court, and a former judge of Gujarat High Court, deal with allotment of plots to judges at Neetibaug Cooperative Housing Society in Sola area here.
The letters question the manner in which the plots were allotted, citing alleged irregularities and breach of norms. According to their petition, the government announced allotment of residential plots to judicial officers in 2003. The government issued a resolution in 2008 announcing allotment of plots in Sola and Gota areas (now considered prime real estate) at concessional rate.
Following the resolution, HC registrar general sent a list of 48 judges. However, the government decided to directly deal with the judges for allotment of plots, instead of going through the registrar general. It changed the condition for allotment and constituted a co-operative housing society for this purpose. Incidentally, the government refused to allot plots to some judges claiming they had retired before the scheme was announced.
The petition stated that the collector of Ahmedabad and the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority were informed of this but no one paid heed, leading the petitioners to take legal recourse. In 2014, the matter even reached Supreme Court that refused to hear a PIL against allotment of plots to judges of Gujarat High Court. It referred the matter back to the HC, saying “merely because judges of the high court have availed themselves of the alleged illegal allotment, it did not mean that the petitioner could not approach the high court concerned with the complaint”.
The court, during the hearing, questioned the need to form the Society when plots were alloted on individual basis. It sought clarifications from 33 parties including the Ahmedabad Collector, Gujarat government, eight sitting judges of the Gujarat High Court, 15 former HC judges, one sitting judge of the Supreme Court, one retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Justice of Orissa HC and the Chief Justice of Bombay HC. All these sitting or former judges have got plots in the Society.
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