Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL), the Bombay high court on Tuesday restrained the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from carrying out any further construction at its office near Mantralaya.
The division bench of justice DY Chandrachud and justice SC Gupte directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to file an affidavit stating what steps the civic body had taken pursuant to the notice issued to the party in April 2013.
The PIL was filed by citizens’ associations from Nariman Point and Churchgate areas, raising concerns over the alleged encroachments on land that has been shown in the Development Plan as a recreation garden.
The petitioners contended that the plot now hosts offices of the BJP and Janata Dal, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and the Employment Exchange.
The counsel for the petitioners on Tuesday pointed out that after the BMC issued notice for removal of additional constructions in the BJP office, the political party has moved a plea for regularisation of the additions and alterations.
However, the counsel said, the civic body cannot regularise such unauthorised construction, which it cannot sanction in the first place.
The judges expressed displeasure that not only were political parties allowed to construct offices on the plot reserved for recreation ground, but also governmental departments have constructed sheds there.
The judges were also irked at the BMC’s inaction.
They were upset that the civic body tried to wash its hands off the issue by asking the citizens’ associations to approach the Public Works Department, saying the plot was in the department’s possession.
The court has now posted the PIL for further hearing on September 3.