The Bombay High Court last week rejected a plea filed by Khatau Makhanji Spinning and Weaving Company seeking possession of its 1.35-lakh-sq-m plot at Borivli.
This paves the way for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s ambitious rental housing project for the low-income group.
Panna Khatau, the company’s chairperson, had moved the HC in the wake of the state government repealing the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976, and sought interim orders to hand over possession of the mill plot back to the company.
Khatau contended that the ULC Repeal Act allowed landlords to retain surplus land if physical possession of the land was not taken before its lapse. A single-judge bench of Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari rejected the plea, saying the Khataus were not in possession of the property on the date the Act was repealed.
In December 1979, 3,28,564.78 sq m of the company’s land at Borivli was declared surplus under the ULC Act. The state later exempted a large part of that plot while clearing its scheme for rehabilitation. The company, however, could not implement the scheme — to construct industrial buildings — resulting in the scheme being cancelled.
Although the state took possession of the plot in February 2007 — well before the ULC Act was repealed on November 29, 2007 — the company’s lawyer Rajiv Narula argued that the possession was not valid and that they should get the benefit of the Repeal Act.
Senior lawyer Narendra Walawalkar, representing the state, however, pointed out that all the formalities stipulated in the ULC Act had been completed before the Act was repealed, and that the mill was not entitled to any benefit from the Repeal Act.
The state has given the plot to MMRDA, which plans to use it for the low-income group rental housing project, which is to be housed over 1,60,591 sq m, and the houses will be provided to low-income groups for nominal rents.