Send notice to trust to recover damages due to encroachment of land in Navi Mumbai, high court tells MIDC
In perhaps what could be the first attempt to recover damages from an encroacher for unauthorised use of government land, the Bombay high court (HC) on Friday directed the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to issue a notice to Bavkhaleshwar Mandir Trust in Navi Mumbai to recover the damages for encroaching upon its land.
The temple trust had, in 2007, encroached upon 1.32 lakh square metres (sqm) of MIDC land at Pawne in Navi Mumbai and developed a temple complex. All the three temples were demolished in November 2018, as per earlier HC orders, passed on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Sandeep Thakur.
After the demolition of the temples, Thakur filed yet another plea in the court, alleging that no action has been taken against MIDC officials, though the encroachment on their land was a fact known to its officials, up to the chief executive officer.
Thakur had filed the PIL alleging that the alleged large-scale usurpation of the public property in TTC Industrial Area was committed by the nephew of a former minister. According to Thakur, the minister’s nephew is a trustee of Bavkhaleshwar Mandir Trust.
The division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Bharati Dangre accepted Thakur’s contention that an inquiry was needed to fix responsibility of the lapse on the part of the MIDC officials concerned, but it also felt that the damages were required to be recovered from the encroacher for unauthorised use of the government land for about 11 years.
It therefore, directed MIDC to issue a show-cause notice for recovery of the damages to the temple trust, mentioning the approximate price of the land encroached upon by it and a reasonable monthly rental for the land.
Apart from the three temples, the encroachments also included a coconut plantation on 54,000 sqm land, an artificial pond spread over 9,600 sqm, asphalt roads covering about 18,000 sqm on MIDC land and a sprawling bungalow on 5,600 sqm on another land, belonging to the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO).