BDA ignored its legal cell's advice on giving land to firm

BDA ignored its legal cell's advice on giving land to firm

BDA ignored its legal cell's  advice on giving land to firm

The Bangalore Development Authority allotted 2.11 acres of prime land to a firm owned by a business partner of Dr Yathindra, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's son, ignoring its own legal cell's opinion.

Documents accessed by this paper revealed that the BDA's legal cell had on August 29, 2012 clearly stated that allotment of alternative land as requested by Shantha Industrial Enterprise amounts to annulling the entire land acquisition process for the formation of Mahalakshmi Layout. “There is no provision for it (allotment of alternative land) in the law. The petitioner (the firm) is only entitled to seek monetary compensation,” the legal cell stated.

But the BDA chose to ignore the legal cell. The authority, in January this year, allotted 2.11 acres of land near Hebbal worth over Rs 150 crore to Shantha Industrial Enterprises after obtaining legal opinion from outside. The BDA had in 1977 acquired the firm's property  at survey numbers 174 and 175 of Kethamaranahalli (now Mahalakshmi Layout). A Supreme Court advocate, whom the BDA later approached, however, opined that the acquisition was bad in law as it was not brought to the notice of the court that had ordered liquidation of the property.

Dr Rajesh Gowda, who is one of the owners of the Shantha Industrial Enterprises, is also the founder-director of Matrix Imaging Solutions in which Dr Yathindra is a director. Matrix has come under criticism for bagging a government contract to set up a superspecialty laboratory in Bengaluru. Opposition parties are accusing the Chief Minister of favouring his son's business partner.

Further, the legal cell stated that the firm’s remaining a mute spectator to the BDA acquiring its property and allotting sites, is like giving its consent. Nowhere in the Company Act, 1956, it is mentioned that land cannot be acquired when a proceeding to wind up a company is pending. Moreover, acquisition of land is a statutory right of any government, it is stated.

Based on the legal cell's opinion, the BDA Special Land Acquisition Officer (SLAO) on February 2, 2013, declared that the acquisition was done as per the law and sought the Commissioner's permission to inform the government that alternative land cannot be given to the petitioner. But the Commissioner directed the SLAO to place it before the BDA Board, where it was decided to seek anther legal opinion from a senior advocate.

Apparently not satisfied with the SC advocate's opinion, the SLAO recommended obtaining one more legal opinion. The SLAO, has in his file notings dated May 23, 2014, revealed certain vital information about the acquisition process: The then managing partner of Shantha Industrial Enterprises G K Srinivas and other partners through their counsel had made a submission to the BDA to willingly hand over the possession of the property. The note further stated that the High Court, which was hearing the liquidation petition under the Company Act, was not kept under dark about the acquisition.

“The court proceedings reflect that the acquisition was brought to the notice of the High Court handling liquidation. The possession of the lands were taken and 16 (2) notification was issued after following due procedure of acquisition,” the note stated.

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