The Bombay high court, on Thursday, paved the way for development of the Navi Mumbai airport, by allowing the City and Industrial Develop-ment Corporation (CIDCO) to hand over 157 acres of disputed land, earmarked for the proposed airport, to Airports Authority of India (AAI).
CIDCO had not handed over the land to AAI so far, because of a directive from the high court to maintain status quo as on April 8, 2010. The directive had been issued after the heirs of the erstwhile rulers of Kalyan, Gangadhar Narayan Bivalkar and his younger brother Yashwant, filed a petition claiming title over the property.
The court has now allowed CIDCO to hand over the plot to AAI after recording a statement by its counsel, VA Thorat, that the land would not be utilised for any purpose other than development of the proposed airport complex.
The division bench of Justice DK Deshmukh and Justice RY Ganoo also allowed the state government to withdraw a statement admitting the Bivalkars’ title over the property made before the court way back in December 2005. They found that the statement had been made merely on instructions given by the Forests Department, which had not consulted other concerned departments, although conceding private ownership over the property involved huge financial implications.
The court has protected the rights of the Bivalkar brothers by clarifying that in case their claim of ownership over the property is upheld, the state government would acquire the land in accordance with law by paying them appropriate compensation.
The Bivalkar brothers had claimed ownership over the property on the basis of the erstwhile Privy Council Court verdict delivered in 1939, under which original title of their predecessor, VD Bivalkar, had been upheld and the nature of Inam was confirmed.