Kanjurmarg land dispute: Bombay HC sets aside decree saying 'fraud' played upon court

Justice AK Menon set aside the decree obtained by Adarsh Water Parks and Resorts by suppression of material facts such as that there were other claimants

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 10:57 PM IST
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Bombay HC | Photo: Representative Image

MUMBAI: In a relief to the Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday set aside a 2020 consent decree which granted ownership of a 6,000-acre parcel of land in suburban Kanjurmarg – including the 102-acre land designated for a Metro car shed – to a private firm, saying that a huge "fraud was played on the court" while obtaining the earlier order.

Justice AK Menon set aside the decree obtained by Adarsh Water Parks and Resorts by suppression of material facts such as that there were other claimants.

“Undeniably, a fraud of huge proportion has been played by suppressing the claim of other parties on the land. The decree order is a product of fraud played on the court by the parties. I have no doubt in my mind that the fraud was on the court itself,” he said.

The high court has, however, made it clear that it was not making any remarks about who is the legitimate owner of the disputed land. The concerned parties will have to take the ownership dispute to an appropriate court, the HC said.

Justice Menon further observed that neither the Maharashtra government, nor the Union, was made party to earlier proceedings despite obvious knowledge of their stakes in the land. Especially since the consent terms acknowledge land parcels were acquired by the state.

The court further said that if the bench (which passed the earlier decree order) had been informed that there were other claimants, it would have inquired into it.

“Due to the difficulties faced during virtual court hearings (during the coronavirus pandemic), the court then was compelled to accept what the lawyers said. The larger responsibility hence falls on the lawyers. The court was then not apprised of all facts,” Justice Menon said.

The order was passed in a plea filed by the state government claiming ownership of the land. The government contended that it was only in March this year that it learnt that the high court had in October 2020 granted the decree of ownership of this land to Adarsh Water Parks and Resorts.

Himanshu Takke, appearing for the state government, argued that over 1,800 acre of the 6,000 acres belonged to it and the central government, and Adarsh Water Parks did not have any right in it. It claimed that nearly 1695 acres belonged to the State, 153 acres to the central government and 32 acres to the BMC. As per records, the state had reserved this land for the metro car shed, school, public well, cemetery, a temple, lake, mine etc.

The BMC and the Railways too filed affidavits laying their claims on part of the land parcel.

Interestingly, all the authorities supported the State government's contention to the extent that it seeks setting aside of the consent terms.

It may be noted that the State and Centre have filed separate proceedings claiming ownership of the land earmarked for the Metro car shed, as well.

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On October 28, 2020, Justice BP Colabawalla decreed a 2006 suit filed by Water Parks and Resorts Pvt Ltd against six private persons. The suit sought specific performance or compliance of an agreement of August 2005, according to which, it claimed, that it was granted development rights of the entire Kanjur village.

According to the consent terms, one Farouq Abdul Rehman Yusuf, claiming to be the only surviving and continuing trustee of a will from 1960, agreed to transfer the land for a part consideration of Rs. 1 crore, in October 2020.

Adarsh was authorised to deal with all public bodies through these consent terms. Interestingly the terms acknowledge that certain land parcels were acquired by the government.

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