The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was hauled up by the Bombay high court on Monday over the case involving a plot at Worli owned by pharma group Glaxo Smithkline. The court said the BMC had assumed quasi-judicial authority and was acting like a civil court in the matter.
The division bench of justice SA Bobade and justice Mridula Bhatkar was hearing a petition filed by Glaxo Smithkline Pharmaceuticals Ltd challenging an October 2009 order passed by the then civic commissioner revoking certain permissions granted to the company, including its transaction with I-Ven Realty for part of the Worli property.
Glaxo Smithkline’s counsel Aspi Chinoy argued that the order was passed without giving the pharma giant the chance for a personal hearing, when the civic commissioner had passed the order after hearing a representative of I-Ven Realty.
“Before the order was passed, notice was issued to us and we had requested a personal hearing. But the civic body only gave the other party a hearing,” the senior advocate submitted.
BMC counsel Anil Sakhare, on the other hand, stated that giving a personal hearing was not a must under the law and therefore the company could not make any grievance about it.
Sakhare also pointed out that the assistant municipal commissioner, estates, who had granted permission for sub-division of the plot, had no authority to do so and only the Improvements Committee has been authorised to handle issues pertaining to land.
The judges, however, reacted sharply to the approach of the civic authorities. “Once you (BMC) have assumed that you have powers to decide without giving a hearing, how can you then discriminate by hearing only one party?” they asked.
The judges were further irked to note the working of the commissioner’s order, which sounded like a decree by a civil court. “This is as if the commissioner has all the powers of a court,” the judges remarked and asked, “How can BMC act like a civil court?”
The bench further said if all sides are not given a hearing before a decision was taken then the order could be bad in law. The matter has been posted for final hearing on February 6.