8A Lothian Road battle reaches High Court again

Army sends notice to claim 44% of the 0.96-acre land, builder files writ petition

The tussle between the Army and M/s Kalpa Taru builders over the controversial 8A Lothian Road plot in Pune has taken a fresh twist with the Army sending a notice claiming its share (44%) of the land, and the builder filing a writ in the Bombay High Court challenging the notice.

Army authorities said they will file a reply to the writ petition.

The Indian Express had in August reported that the Army is yet to get back its 44% share of 8A Lothian Road plot, earmarked for accommodation of Army officers.

Brigadier M S Jaswal, the outgoing Deputy General Officer Commanding (Dy GOC), Pune Sub Area, told The Indian Express, "We sent them the notice a week ago claiming resumption of 44 per cent of 8A Lothian Road giving them three days (to take necessary action). The builder has filed a writ in the Bombay High Court challenging the notice."

As reported by this paper, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its recent report had compared 8A Lothian Road with Adarsh Cooperative Housing scam and commented that the case demonstrates a pattern whereby persons holding fiduciary responsibility in the Ministry of Defence have betrayed it. "The Ministry needs to take a serious view of such transgression by the local military authorities and take effective corrective action," the CAG had said.

In 2005, the Bombay HC, while dismissing the builder's petition, had given the builder an option to approach the GOC-in-C, Southern Command, for permission to construct a commercial complex retaining 44% of the 0.96-acre plot for construction of accommodation of married officers of the Army.

Based on the revised application of the builder and after obtaining the approval of the GOC-in-C, the Cantonment Board had permitted the builder (in January 2006) to construct the building with the rider that 44% of the land be offered for building accommodation for married officers. The builder's petition in the Supreme Court challenging this condition set by the Army was dismissed in September 2006.

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