Is panel of developers feasible, Bombay HC asks state, BMC
The Bombay high court (HC) has asked the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to file an affidavit on whether its suggestion of setting up a panel of competent developers to ensure that development/re-development projects can be taken up and completed in a time-bound manner was possible. The suggestion was made while hearing a petition filed by some persons who claimed that though they had given up their homes for redevelopment in 2015, they were yet to get new homes as construction of the building by the developer was stuck at the plinth level. In light of many such petitions coming before the HC regularly, the bench asked the state and BMC to file their replies on the feasibility of setting up panel of developers.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing the petition filed by 37 members of a society, was informed by advocate MA Khan that all the petitioners were tenants of the civic authority, as the land of the tenement they lived in belonged to BMC. Khan submitted that in 2015 the members had agreed to a redevelopment proposal and vacated the building on the assurance that once the new building was ready, they would get new homes.
However, as work on the new building was stuck at the plinth level, they were left without a roof over their heads. In view of this, they approached the HC for directions to the developer to complete the construction of the building as soon as possible.
After hearing the submission, the bench noted that there was a tendency of developers who were not competent enough to undertake such projects or hand over projects to others after securing them, as a result of which people were rendered homeless.
The court then observed, “We may also take judicial notice of the fact that a large number of litigants are knocking the doors of this court concerning projects, in which the developers have failed to fulfil their obligations to complete the construction for long years, either of slums scheme or such other redevelopment. This has created an alarming situation, to the effect that a large number of citizens are homeless and are made to suffer at the hands of such developers.”
The court suggested that the state government ponder over the issue as to whether it was the need of the time that statutory authorities maintain a panel of registered developers, whose competence on all fronts to execute projects was tested by either the government or other statutory authorities and who could be entrusted with the work of development/re-development. This, the court said, would assure the citizens that construction, once undertaken, was completed in a time-bound manner.
After making the observations, the court directed the state government and municipal authority to file an affidavit on the suggestion canvassed by the court, and also asked the advocate general to appear in the matter in the next hearing on March 23.