Next time you pass the Churchgate subway in south Mumbai, you may not be able to pick up your favourite vada pav or dabeli or may be get your picture clicked at the one-minute photo studio.
The Bombay High Court has asked 20 shops owners to vacate the premises by March 31 after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) refused to renew their contract.
The 20 shops that are owned by four owners – Bhavana Shah, Manish Shah, Prem Manmohan Vij and Bhupendra Gala – had rented the shops form the BMC in 1991 after the corporation had issued tenders to lease the shops.
Ashok Saraogi, counsel for the shop owners told the court that the successful bidders were allotted the premises for 10 years period provided they paid the rent for the entire 10 years at a time.
Following which the contract would be renewed for five year period subject to payment enhanced compensation.
After the first lease expired in 2001, the lease was renewed by the BMC which was to expire in December 31, 2006. However, on December 29, 2006, the shop owners received a notice from the corporation asking them to vacate the premises in two days as they wanted to invite fresh tenders, without giving them a chance to apply for renewal said Saraogi.
Saraogi argued that when the original tender was issued in 1991 there was no clause which specified that it was the discretion of the BMC to renew the contract.
"However, during the signing of the contract, the BMC included a clause which stated it was upto the corporation whether it wants to renew the contract or no despite the fiver year renewal clause," argued Saraogi.
The shop owners had approached the trial court for relief which was rejected earlier this year. The trial court also permitted the corporation to issue fresh tenders.
The corporation had accordingly issued fresh tenders in mid-January however it failed as nobody responded, added Saraogi.
Counsel for BMC Geeta Joglekar argued that they had decided to not renew the contract as the shop owners had defaulted to the tune of Rs 35 lakh.
The shop owners had challenged the order of the trial court in the Bombay High Court. On Monday, Justice AM Khanwilkar rejected the shop owners’ petition. However, the court granted them time till March 31 to vacate the premises. The BMC has been asked to issue fresh tenders.
The court has also asked them to clear the payment within three weeks.
Saraogi told HT that will be challenging the HC order in the Supreme Court.