Christian Priest held for selling leased defence land in Mumbai

published on March 19, 2012

MUMBAI: The Economic Offences Wing ( EOW) of the city police has arrested three persons, including a priest, for allegedly selling land belonging to the defence to Shapoorji Pallonji group for Rs 5.5 crore. The plot houses a heritage structure.

Investigating officer C B Tatkare said Vidya Baranwal, associated with Pallonji’s legal department, had lodged a complaint with them. Bishop Baiju Gavit, 71, advocate
Rajnikant Salvi, 67, and his brother, Shashikant Salvi, were arrested.

According to police, in 1953, the defence gave the land on Hazarimal Somani Marg near CST to the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association on a 99-year lease for Re 1 a year. “No one can sell or buy such properties,” said Tatkare. The Government of India leased out several properties in Panvel, Panchgani, Pune, Kolhapur and Raigad to the association.

“The accused approached the complainant company and said the defence had allowed them to redevelop the 4,266-sq-yard land. They also said they would bring all the necessary permission from defence and the charity commissioner. They claimed to have sent all the documents to the defence ministry,” said the police. Investigations revealed that no letter was sent to the ministry, but by then, the accused had collected Rs 5.5 crore from the company. The builder had plans to redevelop a 33-storey building on the premises.
CNI bishop for Mumbai Prakash Patole was not available for comment.

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