The Estate department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday was reprimanded by the Bombay High Court for purportedly adopting a pick-and-choose policy in defending some matters pertaining to leased properties.
“Why has the corporation shown such a soft approach towards some of the petitioners?” the court asked after it was pointed out that in some cases, the civic body had given its go ahead for redeveloping some leased properties while their matters were pending in the high court.
The division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice Mridula Bhatkar directed concerned officers from the estate department to remain present on the next date – November 24.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by the Bombay Patel Welfare society, which has acquired rights to redevelop a small plot admeasuring about 5,000 square feet in Nagpada. The petitioner society demolished an old ground plus two-storey structure — consisting of 13 residential and six commercial tenements — in order to obtain a Commencement Certificate for the redevelopment work.
However, when it approached the BMC for a Commencement Certificate, it was told to execute a new lease deed and pay 50% of the land value in terms of a new policy decision taken by the civic body in November 2008.
At the same time, the civic body also cancelled a century-old lease of the society by its order dated April 20, 2009.
The society challenged the order before the high court and sought interim relief by way of permission to carry on the redevelopment work during its petition was pending in the high court.
While seeking the interim relief, counsel for the society, Anil Sakhare, pointed out that BMC has given consent in some other similar matters for interim orders.
The revelation irked the judges, who noted some civic officers were adopting pick and choose policy in defending cases before courts.