A Profile in Courage

Is it that the govt is so sick that it needs PILs to make it work?

Is it that the govt is so sick that it needs PILs to make it work?
Is it that the govt is so sick that it needs PILs to make it work?

This man Kamlakar Shenoy deserves a standing ovation from all Mumbaikars for the dogged manner in which he single-handedly exposed a Rs 40,000 Crore scam in MHADA and its repair board.

Several builders were given permission by MHADA to demolish and redevelop old cessed buildings under DC Rule 33(7). They were incentivised by giving additional FSI. One of the condition was that a portion of the redeveloped buildings was to be surrendered to MHADA. But, most of the builders never did that. The value of the real estate stolen by the crooked builders was a whopping Rs 40,000 Cr.

Couldn’t the Maharashtra govt have acted against the builders and MHADA officials when it received the complaint?

Kamlakar, whose sole income is a small hotel, was shocked by the humungous scale of the scam.

Ideally, MHADA should have filed FIRs against the chor builders. But, it never did that because that would have exposed many of its own officials.

Kamlakar’s complaints fell on conveniently deaf ears. The state govt too refused to intervene. Not to be deterred, Kamlakar submitted a series of RTI applications to MHADA and other agencies. Armed with the mass of information he had obtained through RTI he filed, two years ago, a PIL before Bombay High Court, which pronounced its reserved 55-page order on 18th September 2019, directing the Anti Corruption Bureau to file an FIR within five days against the persons concerned for this mega fraud. Salute to Kamlakar and Bombay High Court for this bold move against crooked builders and corrupt officials.

The question that arises is why citizens have to move the court every time to get the govt to perform its basic duties? Couldn’t the Maharashtra govt have acted against the builders and MHADA officials when it received the complaint? Is it that the govt is so sick that it needs PILs to make it work? I hope at least now the state govt will act with speed and arrest all the builders and MHADA officials concerned. It is its basic credibility that is on the test.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

S Balakrishnan

Advocate and Senior Journalist who was formerly City Editor & Chief of Bureau of The Times of India, Mumbai. He has also served in the MumbaiMunicipal Council.
S Balakrishnan

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4 COMMENTS

  1. This article raises a very important point – why does one have to go to the court for getting the government to do its job? Our courts are already overloaded, and petitioners face lot of harrassment in the judicial process. Many goverment officials feel that a whistleblower approaching the court buys them a lot of time – they do not need to act stating that they are waiting for the decision, and they know that there is a good chance that the petitioner will give up eventually after facing the usual delay or cost overrun. Our courts also interrogate the petitioner to see if there is a personal motive behind the PIL and dismiss on flimsy grounds. If the court does not do so then the respondents will use that line as a defence. The respondents don’t file their replies/counter affidavits for months, sometimes years. Finally, if and when the court actually passes a favorable order (for the petitioner), it does not get executed and the petitioner has run again to the court for execution.

  2. Similarly, Lodha Builders have been forcefully looting lot of land portions across Maharashtra, namely even in & around Mumbai. Krishnaraj Rao (who has a you tube channel with the same name) exposed this multiple times in his videos. This makes us common citizens feel that govt is hand in glove with these crooks.

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