Redevelopment of a villa subject to outcome of a PIL: Bombay HC

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday said that redevelopment of Villa Nirmala at Carmicael Road in South Mumbai would be subject to the final outcome of a public interest litigation (PIL) that has alleged that the construction is based on illegalities. Construction is on full swing since last two years.

Residents of the millionaires mile road in Malabar Hill had last year dragged R A Realty, the civic administration and by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) against redevelopment of the bungalow originally owned by Maharaja Shivajirao Gaekwar. Their counsel Janak Dwarkadas informed a bench headed by the Chief Justice Manjula Chellur that the petition raises very important question of law whether a building occupied by an owner can avail higher floor space index (FSI) under Development Control regulation 33/7 which was meant to redevelop old dilapidated cessed tenanted structures. He said an FSI of 3 was made available to the developers who are now constructing a 20 storey high rise. “According to us the tenancies certified by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) are bogus,” he said. The court asked Mhada why it had not filed its reply yet. “Are you enjoying any immunity? We don’t remember granting any immunity from filing any affidavit,” said the Judges calling for a reply in two weeks.

The whole object of DCR section 33/7 was to incentivize developers to rehabilitate tenants whose rights would be in danger because rents were low and the landlord would not be in position to repair or redevelop the building, said Dwarkadas adding, “the consent terms under which the tenancies are purported to have been created are a fraud on the court.”

In its reply, the developer said that there were tenants and that in any case section DCR 33/7 applies cessed regardless of whether is owner occupied or tenant occupied. Rafique Dada counsel for the developer along with Milind Sathe raised question about the locus of the petitioners and their “bonafides” and pointing to a two year inordinate delay in moving court, requested the bench to not make any observation about the construction being subject to the outcome of the PIL.

The court after hearing the matter on Friday, said, “the petitioners have expressed an apprehension that the developer may claim equity and that is why we make it clear that whatever construction is done will be subject to final outcome.”

Credits ET Realty

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