A multi-storied building inside Gokuldas Tejpal (GT) hospital compound in south Mumbai that was supposed to house a super speciality hospital, the first public-private partnership project in the health service sector in Maharashtra, is turning into a storehouse.
The Bombay high court, which is already using the first two floors of the building for storing court papers, on Friday allowed the Mumbai police to use the third floor to house some of their departments, and for storing police papers of ‘national importance.’
The court also dismissed an appeal filed by Carol Info Services Ltd, a firm associated with pharmaceutical giant Wockhardt Ltd, which was supposed to run the hospital in a joint venture with state government. The company had moved in appeal before the division bench after a high court judge, on June 16 last year, dismissed its challenge to the arbitrator justice VP Tipnis’ decision that the state government is not liable to pay it any damage as it had violated the terms of contract.
Acting on a plea filed by the state government, the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Niteen Jamdar allowed the police to use part of the third floor for housing several departments like crime intelligence unit, extradition cell, look-out cell, special operations squad, property cell and some of the branches of economic offences wing, and the remaining portion for storing police records.
LM Acharya, who represented the state government, urged the court to grant the police permission to use the third floor temporarily for two years, as two barracks that housed these departments had been demolished recently for construction of new administrative building inside the commissioner of police office compound.
The counsel for Carol Info Services had opposed the police plea and sought continuation of status quo ordered by the court earlier on their arbitration review petition. The bench accepted his request and continued the status quo for further 12 weeks, but except for first three floors.
The court allowed the city police to use the third floor primarily taking into consideration the fact that important documents and police records might get destroyed during the ensuing monsoon.
First public-private project in health sector
The Rs. 87-crore joint venture was signed in 2000, but was scrapped three years later due to contract violations.
The maiden project of public-private partnership in the state’s health sector had taken shape in May 2000 when the Maharashtra government entered into a joint venture with pharmaceutical giant Wockhardt Ltd for running a super speciality hospital at its building inside GT Hospital compound in south Mumbai.
Three years later, the deal went sour, and consequently, not only was the joint venture terminated, but the hospital too remained only on paper. A decade later, the multi-storied New Hospital Building is lying vacant except for the first two floors, which are being used by the Bombay high court for storing old court records.
Carol Info Services Ltd, associated with Wockhardt Ltd, had lodged a claim of Rs15.5 crore towards damages, besides reimbursement of expenses incurred by it on the joint venture, with an arbitrator.
The claim had come after the government terminated the joint venture in September 2003 on the ground that the company had failed to make essential contribution towards share capital.
The arbitrator, justice VP Tipnis, in February 2008, upheld the allegation that Carol Info Services Ltd failed to make contribution to the share capital and therefore found the company was not entitled to damages.