Bombay High Court: Can’t wield sympathy for deliberate occupation of illegal structures

Bombay High Court: Can’t wield sympathy for deliberate occupation of illegal structures

HC dismisses plea by Durgamata Welfare Society in Vasai challenging demolition notice by civic body

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, March 28, 2023, 07:43 AM IST
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Bombay High Court: Can’t wield sympathy for deliberate occupation of illegal structures | Photo: Representative Image

Mumbai: Neither the court nor the law can wield any sympathy in favour of persons who knowingly occupy illegal structures and claim equity, observed the Bombay High Court while dismissing a petition by residents of Durgamata Welfare Society in Vasai challenging demolition notice issued by the municipal corporation. 

This is the society’s third such petition in the HC since 2010, challenging the demolition notice issued by the Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC). Once earlier it had approached the civil court for relief.

“The Court would not exercise writ jurisdiction to bring about such societal imbalance and discrimination. The law is required to be applied equally and implemented,” said the court while dismissing the petition calling it an “abuse of process of law”.

Withdraw deposits within two weeks

While dismissing the plea, a bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and RN Laddha also imposed a cost of Rs50,000 on the society. The amount has to be deposited with the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority within two weeks, failing which it will be recovered from the petitioner as arrears of land revenue. 

Also slamming any attempt to further enhance and add to the illegal construction, the court called such persons “a greedy lot”, as opposed to those who occupy constructions which are undertaken as per the provisions of law and which are legal. 

The HC noted that the petitioners are aware that its structure was declared illegal, first by CIDCO and later by the municipal corporation. Yet the society, purportedly concerned for its occupants, resisted vacating the structure whenever action was sought. 

After the earlier HC order in December 2020, the municipal corporation issued a notice to the residents on December 14, 2022, asking them to vacate their premises within seven days. The society replied to the notice, however, it failed to indicate any justification as to why action should not be initiated. 

“…We notice that it has become a trend that the moment municipal officers initiate action in accordance with law, reckless allegations of corruption are sought to be made against the officers of the Corporation,” added the HC. “…the whole attempt of the petitioner by hook or by crook was to stall action to remove the unauthorised construction so as to continue to remain in illegal occupation…” it said. 

“Although the society’s advocate is unable to point out a single document which would go to show that the construction in question is in any manner authorised or legal, he still submits that the illegal construction ought not to be removed,” the court said, adding that even the submissions as made by the counsel for the petitioner are only on equity “and more so in desperation”.

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