Making a strong statement against frivolous petitions against the slum rehabilitation scheme, the Bombay High Court ruled recently that such petitioners would be disqualified from entitlement under the scheme.
The ruling came while dismissing two separate writ petitions filed challenging the rehabilitation scheme in Andheri. Suryakant Salaskar and Pundalik Jadhav, residents of Andheri, had filed petitions in the high court saying slum dwellers had not given consent to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) to redevelop the slum at Gaodevi at Andheri.
According to their petition, when the High Power Committee (HPC) examined their grievance, it had held that there was no proof to show that the competent authority had wrongly issued permission to the developer.
However, the Resident Deputy Collector (RDC) in his reply to the petition, said that as of March 23, 2005, there were 88 slum dwellers, of which 52 were eligible and 36 ineligible.
He also said that of the 52 eligible members, 48 had given their consent. “Ninety-two per cent of the eligible members gave their consent in favour of development, against the requisite 70 per cent members,” the RDC said.
He also said that intimation of approval was granted in favour of the developer on December 2006 to construct a temporary transit camp.
“The developer has already constructed temporary an alternate camp and housed 32 slum dwellers,” the RDC said in his reply.
He said although the Slum Rehabilitation Authority and the developer had done everything to ensure that all transit camps were constructed, because of the various litigations by petitioners, the SRA and developer have not been able to progress on the construction.
While dismissing the petitions of Salaskar and Jadhav, the bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari said, “We find that after permission was granted by the SRA in March 2005, a resurvey was done on July 2006 and October 2007 and one of the petitioners was present at the resurvey. Hence, the grievance made in the petitions that the consent of slum dwellers was not correctly recorded cannot be entertained.”
The bench also observed that on account of various proceedings taken out by petitioners in the past, the work on construction of rehabilitation buildings has been unnecessarily delayed.
“Some petitions definitely appear to be mala fide, instigated by business rivalry or other reasons,” said the chief justice.
Issuing a stern warning the court also observed, “In appropriate cases the court will consider this aspect and whenever a petition is found to be mala fide, the court may consider disqualifying such petitioners from their entitlement to allotment in rehabilitation buildings”.
The court also imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the petitioners.