Given two months to declare ownership rests with Centre

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has slapped a statutory notice on the Maharashtra government, warning it of a civil suit if the government and the Adarsh housing society don't acknowledge the ownership of the MoD, to the land where the tainted society has come up.

“The Government of Maharashtra [GoM] wrongly and illegally seeks to deny the Union of India's title to the property. The Union of India's possession of the property has been wrongfully and illegally taken away. The Union of India [through the MoD] proposes to file a civil suit against the GoM and the Adarsh society, inter alia seeking a declaration of its title to the property, for recovery of possession of the property, and for reliefs,” the notice issued to the Chief Secretary states.

Notice has also been served on the Registrar of Co-operative Societies and Adarsh society.

The notice follows the Adarsh commission's conclusion that the land in question is owned by the State government. “The representatives and officials of the GoM and the Adarsh society have, at all relevant times, repeatedly and unambiguously acknowledged the MoD's right, title, and possession of the property,” the notice issued under Section 80(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and Section 164 of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960, states.

Maharashtra has been given two months to acknowledge the title of the land. In that period, the MoD has sought a declaration from the State government that the title rests with the MoD. It also wants the property to be vacated, and possession handed to it.

If the State government fails to do so, the MoD will file a civil suit against it in the Bombay High Court.

Only owner

“The Union of India [through the MoD] is the only owner of the property. The Union of India was in possession and ownership of the property as on April 1, 1937, and prior thereto. By virtue, inter alia, of the provisions of Section 172 of the Government of India Act, 1935, and Article 294 of the Constitution of India, the Union of India has, at all material times, been, and continues to be, the owner of the property,” the notice states.

It says that the Ministry lost possession of the land on October 27, 2004, due to the fraud, collusion and connivance of the members and promoters of the Adarsh society, some officials and ministers of the State government, and certain officers of the MoD.

It has alleged that the promoters of the society took advantage of the lack of entries in the Military Land Register maintained by the Defence Estate Office of the MoD and similar loopholes in the records maintained by the State government.

“This paved the way for the unlawful demolition of the Khukri Park, and construction of the Adarsh Building on the property. No approval of the Union of India/MoD was taken for relinquishment of rights and possession of the property as mandated by law. The transfer of title and possession to Adarsh society, the various approvals, permissions and certificates issued to the Adarsh society are all illegal,” the notice states.