PIL in SC for probe into PM’s assets as per poll affidavit

New Delhi: A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday alleging Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suppressed details on his assets in the election affidavits.

Saket Gokhale, a former journalist, who claims to be an independent consultant, filed the PIL alleging that the PM was the beneficiary of a questionable land allotment policy followed by the Gujarat Government since 1998. As a consequence of this policy, the public lands were allotted to legislators at bare minimum prices.

According to the petition, in 2002, Modi benefited due to the policy, as he received prime land at a paltry price of Rs 1.3 lakh in the heart of Gandhinagar City (Plot No.411, Sector 1, Gandhinagar) on October 25. This Plot No. 411 was mentioned in his election affidavit in 2007, when Modi had contested the Gujarat assembly elections.

The petition said the land allotment scheme had got into controversy after the Gujarat High Court registered a suo moto case in 2000. On November 2, 2012, the Supreme Court directed the HC to consider the matter. The apex court intervened and stopped any further allotment of plots and also ordered that no permission should be given to transfer plots already allotted without the approval of the High Court.

The petitioner claimed that in the election affidavits filed by Modi after court’s observation, Plot No. 411 simply disappeared. In the affidavit filed in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and in the declaration of assets made as Prime Minister in 2015, 2016 & 2017, this plot is allegedly omitted.

According to the petitioner, the affidavits declare ownership of 1/4th share of Plot No.401/A in Gandhinagar, which is a “non-existent plot”. The petitioner said that Plot No. 401 is allotted as per the government policy to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The petition said: “Though, the said Plot Nos. 401, 403 to 411 are ostensibly in the names of different owners, the said plots have been joined together (except plot no.402) and have a single compound wall with multiple structures constructed on the said land. The petitioner verily believes that all the said plots (having a single compound) is been held/utilized/occuppied for the use and benefit of Respondent No.3(PM Modi) and are in fact his benami assets.”

Contending that the alleged false affidavits by PM Modi violated the citizen’s right to have information about the candidate under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, the PIL seeks a probe by a Special Investigation Team headed by a retired Chief Justice of India to investigate the alleged irregularities.