Taking note of the apprehensions expressed by the Indian Army, the Bombay high court on Tuesday suggested that the defence force should consider acquiring the land at Cuffe Parade and take over the 31-storey Adarsh building.
“The defence forces are empowered to acquire properties adjoining their facilities, use the power and see if you can acquire the land and take over the building,” the division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice RD Dhanuka told army counsel Rajni Iyer.
“You can definitely put the building to some use,” the judges added while hearing a petition filed by the general officer commanding (GOC) of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa military areas.
The GOC approached high court seeking immediate demolition of the building structure, as ordered by the ministry of environment and forests in November 2011, citing it a grave security threat for the Colaba military station.
The army also sought orders restraining the local planning authorities – the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — from granting any building or development permission in the area surrounding the military station without a no objection certificate (NOC) from the defence forces.
Iyer urged the court to restrain the MMRDA and other authorities from taking any further steps with respect to completion certificate and occupation certificate (OC) for the disputed building.
Counsel for the housing society responded to the plea stating that the MMRDA had revoked the OC in December 2010 and no one was occupying the building as electricity and water supply had been disconnected. The counsel also disputed the army’s claim over the disputed land and submitted that the structure posed no security threat.
The judges directed the authorities to maintain status quo. “In our opinion, everything else is secondary to the security of the nation,” the judges said.