The Bombay high court on Wednesday dismissed the plea of an architecture firm that asked that the Maharashtra government appoints it as the architects for the ambitious Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial project in the Arabian Sea.
The division bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice Girish Kulkarni turned down Team One Architects’ petition, saying while the firm’s concept and design for the project was selected by the government, there was no contract between them that said the firm will be appointed as the architects.
In November 2008, the state government organised an international competition, where architects were asked to submit a design for the memorial.
The advertisement said the winner of the competition will be selected to actually build the project.
Team One Architects’ concept was shortlisted and their detailed design was eventually accepted by the government.
The firm’s counsel, advocate JP Sen, said once shortlisted, the petitioner attended several meetings with high-level governmental officials and invested manpower and resources in preparing a detailed design.
“We were given assurance the architecture work for the project will be given to us. Even a draft agreement for appointment as the architects was prepared,” Sen said.
With this backdrop, it was not legally permissible for the state to go back on its word, Sen told the court, adding the government was estopped (not allowed to) from doing so.
But the judges said the doctrine of promissory estoppel comes into play only if there was a concluded contract.
In this case, the private party acted on the basis of solemn assurances, the bench said.
The 190-foot statue of the Maratha warrior king has been planned on a rocky outcrop in the Arabian Sea, roughly 1.5km from Raj Bhavan.
The memorial is likely to cost more than Rs 2,000 crore.