Mumbai’s slum authority should let private land owner develop plot, rules high court

Slum Rehabilitation Authority must give the land owner an opportunity to develop the private property before proceeding to acquire it, the court said.

mumbai Updated: Jun 16, 2018 12:39 IST
Kanchan Chaudhary
Kanchan Chaudhary
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,slums,SRA
The court struck down proceedings for acquisition of a 9,054-sqm plot on Saki Vihar Road for a slum redevelopment project.(HT File Photo/Used for representational purpose)

The Bombay high court (HC) recently held that the Slums Act, 1971 has created preferential rights in favour of land owners, adding the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) must grant an opportunity to the land owner to go ahead with development on private property before proceeding to acquire it.

A division bench of justice Shantanu Kemkar and justice GS Kulkarni on Wednesday struck down proceedings for acquisition of a 9,054-sqm plot at Tungwa along Saki Vihar Road for a slum redevelopment project for failing to give an opportunity to the land owner, Indian Cork Mills Private Limited, to execute the project, before initiating the acquisition proceedings.

In September 1979, the slum rehabilitation authority had declared part of the Indian Cork Mills’ property (3,045sqm) as slum under provisions of the Slums Act, 1971. In March 2011, the authority published a fresh notification declaring the entire property a slum. Occupiers of the slums on the property at Tungwa along Saki Vihar Road formed a society, Tarabai Nagar Co-operative Housing Society, primarily for implementation of the slum scheme. Indian Cork Mills approached the HC last year after the SRA in December 2016 issued a notification for acquisition of the property for implementing the scheme.

The bench on Wednesday held the SRA and the state government failed to recognise rights of the petitioner company and acted in disregard to its preferential right to undertake redevelopment of the land. It struck down the acquisition proceedings saying, “Permitting such exercise of power oblivious to provisions of the Slum Act would be nothing short of conferring arbitrary powers to pick and choose lands for acquisition at the discretion of the SRA or State Government.”

The bench said the Slums Act, 1971 has conferred rights on land owners and these statutory rights cannot be usurped directly by putting into operation the acquisition machinery, simply because the authorities have the power to acquire private land.

First Published: Jun 16, 2018 12:39 IST