Sheela Bhatt lifts the lid off a Gujarat government scheme, piloted by Law Minister Amit Shah, currently in the dock over the Sohrabuddin encounter, to offer prime plots cheap to judges
Three months before his arrest in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, former Gujarat Minister of State for Home and law minister Amit Shah had offered prime land near Ahmedabad to all judges of the Gujarat high court on behalf of the state government at a price considerably lower than the prevailing market rate.
A Gujarat high court office-bearer has, off-the-record, confirmed this development. Except a couple of judges, most judges have accepted the offer.
According to him, "The Gujarat government mooted a scheme some months back to allot land to all Gujarat high court judges and also to some judges who were elevated or transferred out of Gujarat."
A lot of deliberation took place over the allotment between the judiciary and the state government, he added.
In a season of intense politics, the land allotment to judges at a cheap rate is likely to turn controversial.
A senior Gujarat high court lawyer told rediff.com that the piece of land, which originally belonged to Sola and Gota villages in the outskirts of Ahmedabad, was offered by the state government at throwaway prices to the honourable judges.
Sola village has now turned into a modern township. Land rates have inflated, making it beyond the reach of poor and middle class people.
The lawyer, who was involved in fighting the case of farmers in this area, said this prime piece of land was valued at around Rs 30,000 per square metre in the open market. It was, however, given for around Rs 10,000 per square metre.
While the plots measuring around 400 square metre were given to judges at a very low price by the government, this has not been appreciated by many lawyers in Ahmedabad, but none of them agreed to come on record with their reaction.
Rediff.com tried to contact a couple of judges who did not accept the state government's offer, but they were unavailable for comment.
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