Saturday, August 01, 2009

90,000 SQ FTNEXTTO LAL BAGH FOR JUST 1 CR!

90,000 SQ FTNEXTTO LAL BAGH FOR JUST 1 CR!
It’s one of Bangalore’s biggest real estate scams, involving prime Wakf Board property. A CoD inquiry points a finger at several big politicians and government officials
HEMANTH KASHYAP


It’s a scandal that leaves the city’s entrenched real estate mafia looking like amateurs. In 2006, ninety thousand square feet of prime property close to Lal Bagh was sold for just Rs one crore, when even in this time of recession it could have easily fetched Rs 90 crore at market price!
A CoD inquiry, whose report Bangalore Mirror has accessed, reveals that a few corrupt government officials, in collusion with several big-time politicians, sold this land belonging to the Wakf Board to a private party. WELL-PLANNED CON
The two acres and three guntas (a little over 90,000 square feet) of land located next to Lal Bagh belonged to a Muslim Charitable Trust, Dargah Athaullah Shah and Hazrath Nabishah, commonly known as Bada Makan.
It all started when some people, claiming to be legal heirs of late Bhavari Lal, went to the high court and argued that this property belonged to them. Despite the Wakf Board not being made a party in this case, a few officials of the Board, including the legal counsel, colluded with the petitioners and filed a joint memo of compromise before the court stating that they did not have objections to part with the land if they were paid Rs one crore.
The petitioners agreed to this and paid the money thus concluding a transaction that had the high court’s approval. This happened in 2006 when real estate prices in Bangalore had reached a peak. At that time land around Lal Bagh had touched more than Rs 15,000 per square feet.
PROBE ORDERED
Soon, this scandal came to the notice of certain officials in the state government. In December 2008, the B S Yeddyurappa government ordered an inquiry by the CoD, which was conducted by a team headed by Superitendent of Police K N Yogappa. The team examined court cases pertaining to this land for the last 15 years. They also interrogated Wakf Board officials, including the then CEO, M A Khalid, and Chairman Khalid Ahmed and seized several documents.
The case history revealed that this piece of land was gifted to the charitable trust by the Mysore Maharaja in 1812 and the property was
transferred to Wakf Board for safe custody in 1975. Even the high court had ruled on several occasions that the land belonged to the board.
Dr Guruprasad, the CoD chief, has concluded in his report to the government that the concerned Wakf Board officials had willfully erred in filing a joint compromise memo before the
high court to transfer the land to a private party at a price far below the market estimate. The CEO, a few members and the legal counsel of the Wakf Board deliberately caused this loss and action should be taken against them, the CoD chief has recommended.
MINISTER REACTS
Wakf Minister Professor Mumtaz Ali Khan told Bangalore Mirror that, “On receiving this report, we have initiated several corrective mechanisms. We have issued a show cause notice to the Walkf Board asking them why the Board should not be superseded. They have gone to the high court and obtained a stay order on show cause notice.”
“We are in the process of getting the stay order lifted and supersede the board. Secondly, we are going to book a criminal case against the people involved, including the CEO, who was part of this clandestine transaction. Then, we will have to recover the property from the private party by taking the high court into confidence.”
“I admit it is a big fraud played on Wakf properties. The same people have indulged in several other such transactions and all are being probed. I am here to take action against them and protect Wakf properties,’’ the minister added.

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