Lata violated norms for housing scheme, government tells HC

Lata violated norms for housing scheme, government tells HC

The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court here today that singer Lata Mangeshkar had violated conditions imposed by authorities to regularise her scheme for reserving houses for people below the poverty line, though the singer denied the charge.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Lata Mangeshkar challenging a notice issued to her on January 4 this year by a state body, saying that she had to obtain permission before selling immovable property on her land at Kolhapur.

The state government said in an affidavit today that the time limit to implement the housing scheme proposed by the singer was to end on July 2011. At her request, the state government extended the time frame to October 2014.

However, while extending the time limit, the state government said that it had also penalised Lata Mangeshkar by asking her to pay Rs 5 per square feet per year, from 2011 to 2014, on underdeveloped land, but she chose not to pay, thus violating the condition.

Her lawyer argued today that she had refused to comply with conditions since they were "unreasonable". He denied that the singer had "violated" them as alleged by the state.

A division bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka said the matter would be heard on its merits after two weeks.

The singer has sought quashing and setting aside the January 4 notice issued by the Competent Authority under the Urban Land Ceiling Act.

Mangeshkar owns land admeasuring 38,623 square metres in Kolhapur and wanted to give it to Vikesh Oswal to develop residential and commercial tenements.

However, Competent Authority under the Urban Land Ceiling (ULC) Act had declared that 23,889 square metres land is "surplus".

Lata Mangeshkar then proposed a scheme under Section 20 of the ULC Act which was approved by the authorities on July 2, 2007. The scheme envisaged giving some houses to the government at subsided rates, but she did not execute the scheme, since the ULC Act was repealed in November 2007, her petition said.

The singer executed an agreement with Oswal and also gave him power of attorney to develop her land for Rs 4.5 crore. Oswal secured the right to construct residential and commercial units and received floor space index to build tenements on that land, in order to sell them.

The Kolhapur Municipal Corporation also sanctioned construction of residential and commercial tenements on the land.

Meanwhile, the Competent Authority under the ULC Act issued a notice to Lata Mangeshkar on October 20, 2013, asking her why she had not implemented the scheme proposed by her under Section 20 of the ULC Act.

The singer replied that the issue of validity of Section 20 of the ULC Act is pending in the Bombay High Court and she would reply only after the matter has been decided.

The Competent Authority issued another notice to her saying that in case she wanted to sell any property on her land, she would have to obtain its permission.

The notice also mentioned that she had not reported completion of the scheme proposed by her under Section 20 of the ULC Act and that she had not applied for extension of the period of the scheme, since it had already expired.

The notice also said that Lata Mangeshkar had not given five houses at subsidised rates to those nominated by the government as provided under the scheme.

However, Lata Mangeshkar challenged the notice in her petition contending that after the repeal of ULC Act, the Competent Authority did not remain in existence and hence the scheme under Section 20 of the Act became unenforceable.
Hence, it did not confer powers on the competent authority to penalise her.

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