Residents of Cuffe Parade will now be able to enjoy 2,850 sqm of open space that was allotted to a school to build a playground.
The Supreme Court (SC), on Monday, dismissed the special leave petition (SLP) filed by the state government and GD Somani School which contended that the school be allowed to develop the plot into a school playground, said Shivaji Jadhav, counsel for the Cuffe Parade Residents Association.
In 1980, the state government had leased a plot measuring 5,700 sqm to the BMC at a lease of Re1 a year for the construction of a primary school.
In the Development Plan prepared in 1990, the plot was divided into two halves by the government. Each half measured 2,850sqm.
The BMC was to construct the school on one half while the other half was to be developed into a public playground.
The corporation informed the government that it did not have finances to develop the plot into a playground.
It said that the trust of the adjoining GD Somani School was willing to construct a school building for the BMC if they are allowed to develop the other half of the plot into a playground for their school.
The government accepted the BMC's proposal.
It allotted 2,850sqm of land to the school Trust without calling for tenders or issuing a public notice.
In 1991, the residents' association, through their counsels Aspi Chenoy and Beni Chatterji approached the high court, challenging the allotment of the plot without the issue of a public notice.
The government justified the move by asserting that the school trust had agreed to pay Rs32 lakh per year as lease for the plot as against Re1 a year agreed by the BMC.
The BMC had suggested that the plot be allotted to the school, they further contended.
The high court, on January 6, quashed the government resolution observing, "As the corporation made a statement that it is [now] in a position to construct a school building, therefore, the justification given by the government for allotting 50 per cent of the plot to the school Trust no longer exists."
The government and the school management then approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court's order.