A ‘legal’ lifeline at  last, but can it help?

Mumbai :  Striking a blow for the beleaguered Campa Cola residents, retired Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna and retired High Court judge V G Palshikar said that it was the moral responsibility of the state government to protect the interests of law-abiding citizens.

A ‘legal’ lifeline at  last, but can it help?

Both said the state government could pass an ordinance to regularise the unauthorised flats. Campa Cola residents had sought the opinion of both the judges.

Advocate Rajiv Nerula, a resident of Campa Cola compound, said that they had submitted the two legal opinions to the CM; one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Worli police have sent the residents a notice under Section 149 of the IPC which forbids unlawful demonstration.

Admitting that the Supreme Court judgment is binding on all authorities and courts, Justice Srikrishna said, “The state of Maharashtra, as a welfare state, is obliged to act to alleviate the misery of innocent middle class purchasers who put their life’s savings in flats and become victims of frauds of builders with active connivance of municipal authorities.”

He added that if Maharashtra decides to bring in a law to set up a mechanism which would help poor, innocent, middle class victims of such frauds by builders, the state is fully enabled to do so, notwithstanding the SC judgment. This would not amount to contempt of court, he added.

Justice Srikrishna pointed out that the SC judgement merely says that that there is no provision in the existing law for regularising illegal or irregular constructions. “The judgment cannot be read as postulating that there can never be a law to permit regularisation of such constructions,” he said.

Justice Srikrishna said that the construction was completed by 1989 at which time the Right to Information Act was not in existence and the flat purchasers had no method of discovering illegalities, if any.

Justice Palshikar said there were several reasons why the state government must issue an ordinance to save the flats from demolition.

“The exercise of the legislative power is to protect the rights enjoyed by the residents for the last 25 years and it is not I emphasise for undoing the SC judgment,’’ he said.

Justice Palshikar said that he was of the view that an ordinance for protecting the rights of several citizens would not be an undue exercise of the powers of the state. He also said that the exercise of legislative powers cannot become a precedent as a precedent has a define meaning in the legal terminology.

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