Peeved with the filing of frivolous public interest litigations (PILs) which consume the court’s time, the Bombay high court on Monday imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on a petitioner who had challenged the redevelopment scheme undertaken in the vicinity of INS Trata, a sensitive naval base at Worli.
A division bench of justice DK Deshmukh and justice ND Deshpande on Monday dismissed the petition filed by Subodh Khochare, a resident of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chawl at Worli.
Khochare had challenged the redevelopment of the BMC chawl, saying it falls within 300 metres of the sensitive naval base. As per a circular issued by the Urban Development Department (UDD) on June 23, 2008, any construction coming up within 300 metres of a naval base would require an NOC from the Navy. Khochare has alleged that the Navy had falsely granted an NOC for the redevelopment saying the proposed site was more than 300 metres from the naval base.
Khochare had alleged in the petition that the “builder along with certain unknown naval officers entered into a conspiracy to find ways and means to get out of this stringent requirement of obtaining a naval NOC.” It stated that the proposed site of the 70-storey tower was actually just 125 metres from the boundary of the naval land situated at Site-2.
The petition further stated that the measurement was taken not from Site-2, but from Site-5, which is apparent from the letter from the public information officer (PIO) of the Western Naval Command, dated February 9, 2010.
However, the court dismissed the Khochare’s petition. “If the naval authorities have granted the NOC, we will assume it is in accordance with law,” remarked justice Deshmukh.
The court observed that, “the petitioner has unnecessarily used the machinery of the court… The petitioner is directed to pay Rs25,000 to the Navy.” The court further observed that the petitioner had failed to point out any law that had been breached.
Ashish Mehta, advocate for Khochare, argued that the naval authorities had wrongly given the NOC. “If it is misused, then there will be danger to people’s lives… There will be another Adarsh-like situation,” he said.
Justice Deshmukh retorted to Mehta’s argument by saying, “If there is any danger, it is to their (naval officers) life; you are safe. They are capable of dealing with 100 Adarsh-like situations.”
The civic body’s communication to the developer on August 2, 2008, clearly stated that the construction was within 300 metres of the naval establishment in Worli.
The BMC had sanctioned the redevelopment of the project by AA Estate Pvt Limited in March 2006. However, it asked the developer to acquire the NOC after the UDD issued its circular in 2008.