2.7K legal suits were filed against Thane Municipal Corporation in 5 yrs, only 600 disposed of

Insufficient manpower and lack of reputed lawyers to defend TMC are the reasons for the piling cases

mumbai Updated: Nov 17, 2018 00:48 IST
Megha Pol
Megha Pol
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Thane,Legal suits
The disposal rate is merely 21 per cent.(HT PHOTO)

Even as the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) aims at creating a smart city by announcing new ambitious projects, it is still grappling with the mounting legal cases filed against it.

In the past five years, more than 2,760 court cases have been filed against the TMC, out of which, only 600 cases have being disposed of. The disposal rate is merely 21 per cent.

The corporation has spent over ₹6 crore on these legal cases in the past five years. The statistics reveal that maximum number of suits filed is the civil suits, these includes cases filed challenging notices issued by TMC, cases on illegal constructions, encroachments, dangerous structures, potholes and property.

An official from the legal department said, “Since 2013, around 2,768 cases have been filed against the TMC, out of which, 600 were decided while 2,168 cases are still pending. Out of the cases filed, around 949 include civil suits, 474 birth and death related cases and 298 criminal cases. A total of 948 cases were challenged in the high court.”

He said most of the civil suits which are decided in the lower court are challenged in the high court by the petitioners.

“Most birth and death cases are relating to missing records or those which were not filed, changes in the original certificates, lost certificates and adoption cases,” said the official from the legal department.

“In the past five years, more than 77 public interest litigations were filed against us, out of which, 53 are still pending. More than 1,027 writ petitions were also filed apart from the cases and public interest litigations (PIL) since 2013 and only 547 writs disposed of in the five years,” the official added.

Writ petitions were filed to challenge the decisions of the corporation or to request court to give directions to the corporation on a particular issue.

TMC has spent more than ₹6 crore on the legal cases, however, the disposal rate continues to remain low.

Insufficient staff and non-appointment of reputed lawyers to defend the corporation are some of the major reason for the piling cases.

The department also struggled with budget till the previous years. It has four senior advocates and six on the panel of HC lawyers and one designated council and eight panel lawyers for the lower courts.

Activists said the department needs more reputed lawyers for fast disposal of cases.

Chandrahas Tawade, an activist from Thane, said, “There is huge workload and staff is not enough. The department is not organized. It has not categoried cases.”

“The staff do not have info on how many cases are filed against town planning department or the tree authority,” said Tawade.

Tawade added that the department does not take initiative to clear cases soon.

“They will act on a pending case only when the department informs them of the case. Moreover, there is no co-ordination with the officials,” said Tawade.

“We have observed that the officers are not informed to be present in court, thus adjourning the hearing. The department needs to be more organised and efficient to clear the backlog,” added Tawade.

This year, the civic commissioner has increased the budget so that more PILs can be disposed of soon.

“We used to get budget provision of ₹1.5 crore. This year, it was raised to ₹8 crore. The plan is to hire reputed lawyers who can present a strong defence for the corporation,” said the official

“We have also disposed most of the cases by conducting Lok Adalat (open court), formulated special octroi scheme to dispose these cases and also cleared most illegal construction cases by going by due process of law,” added the official.

First Published: Nov 17, 2018 00:48 IST