The Bombay high court last week dismissed a plea filed by the Adarsh cooperative housing society, opposing a title suit filed by the Ministry of Defence regarding the land on which the building stands.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and justice MS Sonak rejected the appeal filed by the scam-hit society challenging the order of a single judge of the court. In May 2014, a single judge had dismissed the society’s plea for rejection of the MoD title suit, which had asked for a declaration from the court that it was the sole and absolute owner of the prime land in south Mumbai on which the high-rise building was constructed.
The society said the MoD’s suit was signed by Major General Deepak Saxena, the General Officer in Command (GOC) for Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa on behalf of the ministry, but that he was not authorised to do so. It said the Military Lands Manual (MLM) and the rules for Acquisition, Custody and Relinquishment of Military Lands in India, 1944, empowered only the Defence Estate Officer — the custodian of defence properties — to file such suits on behalf of the MoD, and therefore, the plaint verified by the GOC should be rejected.
The single judge had, however, found no fault in the filing of the suit and dismissed the plea.
The division bench presided by the chief justice also found no fault in the filing of the suit, holding the MLM was a mere guide. The bench said while MLM referred to filing of suits by a particular officer, it does not prohibit suits being filed by other authority specifically authorised by the government in terms of concerned provisions of the Civil Procedure Code.
The division bench pointed out earlier court rulings holding the suit itself cannot be invalidated on the grounds of defects in verification and presentation of the plaint, as they amount to technical irregularities that could be cured at any time.