The state government has been directed to consider withdrawing a resolution passed in 1990 allotting approximately 2,580 sq m of land to a south Mumbai-based school in lieu of the latter constructing a school for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
A division bench of justices DK Deshmukh and ND Deshpande on Wednesday asked the government to consider withdrawing the resolution after the counsel for the corporation informed the Bombay High Court that they have the funds to construct the school.
Of the total 5,700 sq m of open plot in Cuffe Parade, the government allotted half of it to GD Somani School to develop it as its playground.
The school was to construct a civic school building on the remaining half of the plot.
The government resolution stated that this was done as the municipal corporation did not have money.
The court had stayed the allotment after the Cuffe Parade Residents Association initiated a public interest litigation (PIL) in 1991.
The PIL came up for final hearing on Wednesday.
Aspi Chenoy and Beni Chatterji, counsels for the association, argued that the government allotted the land, which is worth approximately Rs 400 crore now, without inviting tenders. "Such huge largesse worth crores cannot be given to private trust without auction or without following proper procedure by government. It can't be done by private negotiations," argued Chenoy.
Chenoy said Cuffe Parade was one of the most congested areas in the city and did not have many open spaces or public parks.
The court was informed that at the time of allotment, GD Somani had suggested that it would name the new constructed school as 'Somani School'. Justice Deshmukh remarked: “How can even name (of corporation school) be negotiated? How can municipal school's name be decided by others?”
Rafiq Dada, counsel for the school, said they would be constructing an entire building, which would be used by the BMC as a school and only half of the plot would be a playground.
On Wednesday, KK Singhvi, BMC counsel, informed the high court that the corporation now has money to build its own school. The high court has asked government to decide on withdrawing the resolution by December 7.