Faced with land grab charge against his wife, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane today denied any wrongdoing but offered to surrender it to the temple trust, which has levelled the allegation, if it so wants.

The temple trust situated in Mahabaleshwar has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court alleging a piece of land belonging to it was illegally sold to Nilam Rane.

“The land deal was completely transparent and legal. But if the temple trust wants the land, I would give it to them with permission from the Court,” Mr. Rane told reporters.

Mr. Rane’s statement comes a day after an embattled Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, whose alleged role in Adarsh Housing Society scam threatens to cost him his job, announced that flats allotted to his relatives in the tower in upmarket Colaba meant for Kargil veterans and war widows were being surrerendered.

The entire controversy involving Mr. Rane’s wife is over a half acre plot-survey number 109-which, according to the Revenue Minister, was in possession of Radhabai Mahabaleshwar prior to 1945 when Sureshchandra Panchal bought it. In 1985, the land came to be wrongly registered in the name of temple trust against which Mr. Panchal had filed a complaint.

Following Mr. Panchal’s complaint, the record was amended by the Revenue Department in 2008, Mr. Rane claimed.

Nilam bought almost half acre (18 guntha) from Mr. Panchal for Rs 1.4 lakh 15 years back since he needed money for treatment of his ailing son, Mr. Rane, a former Chief Minister, said, denying charges of any foul play.

The HC had yesterday stayed the sale transaction between Mr. Panchal and Ms. Rane and directed that no further development will take place on the land till further orders.

According to the Shrikshetra Mahabaleshwar Devasthan Trust, which has moved the HC, the entry in the land records showing the land as belonging to it was deleted in 2008 by the Revenue Department for no reason and without giving the trust any hearing.

The Trust manages several temple properties in and around Mahabaleshwar, a popular hill station in the state.

The petition claims the land in question was “Inam Land” (land granted to temple by a local ruler) and was in its possession since the days of King Shivaji.

However, last year, the Trust came to know that in the ’record of rights’, a mutation entry was effected on June 9 2008, showing that this land, measuring around two acres was now in the name of Mahesh B Panchal, a resident of Vasai near Mumbai.

Further, the entry showed that out of this, half an acre land had been sold by Mr. Panchal to Ms. Nilima Rane.

According to advocate Nitin Jamdar, petitioner’s lawyer, the change in the land record came about without any notice to the Trust.

The trust also found out that prior to the mutation entry, P S Kamble, a desk officer in revenue department, had passed an order directing collector to delete the land from list of Inam lands belonging to the trust. This order was purportedly based on collector’s report, and even State advocate general’s opinion.