Bombay HC declines to grant relief in slum's Rs 15 crore transit rent plea
Publish on : 2023-11-20 12:42:23
HC was hearing a petition by Vaibhavi SRA Cooperative Housing Society Ltd against a March 2023 status quo order by the apex grievance redressal committee (AGRC).
MUMBAI: Observing that “there is such a thing as going too far”, the Bombay High Court declined to grant interim relief in a petition by slum dwellers demanding lump sum disbursal of over Rs 15 crore transit rent arrears or else cancellation of the developer’s appointment in a large SRA project at Jerbai Wadia Road, Parel. Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata said, “We do not believe that these (slum) societies have this spectrum of rights.”
HC was hearing a petition by Vaibhavi SRA Cooperative Housing Society Ltd against a March 2023 status quo order by the apex grievance redressal committee (AGRC). HC stayed the proceedings before AGRC. “The petition brings to the forefront the enormous inequity caused in this city but in unanticipated ways,” HC said in a November 10 order.
Dictating the order, Justice Patel said, “We have here demands from the slum dwellers that because they have encroached on lands both public and private because they are trespassers, therefore they have an entitlement to a reward of not only free of cost accommodation and high-value marketable assets but in the meantime large amounts as transit rent.”
HC remarked that salaried employees such as those in the government and courts “routinely draw on whatever sources they have including their Provident Funds and other savings” to pay “enormous amounts” towards the EMI, adding, “Nobody gives them a free house.”
Senior counsel Milind Sathe for the slum society which has 286 members said the project dates back to 2006 and the slum site was fully cleared in September 2018, and from September 2021 no transit rent was paid at all, and part dues from earlier. The project is on an almost two-acre plot.
In January, the SRA chief had cancelled the appointment of the builder, Landmark Developers, which AGRC stayed on appeal. The slum dwellers moved HC to seek orders for the builder’s removal as provided in Development Control Regulation (DCR) 33(10) and Section 13 (2) of the Maharashtra Slum Act. Sathe argued unless the Slum Act provision is read or struck down by a court, it must be applied. HC said such a demand “brings to the forefront the public law element involved and the question of statutory interpretation”.
Simil Purohit and Samit Shukla advocates for Landmark Developers, said the project requires revised plans under the new DCPR and added that transit rent arrears would be paid in installments.
HC directed the builder to file its reply but admitted the slum society’s petition and posted it on January 29, 2024.