Mumbai: An assurance or a statement given by a minister in the state legislative assembly does not amount to a government order, ruled the Bombay High Court on Friday. The HC pronounced this while quashing the ‘stop work’ orders, issued by the MHADA against Rustomjee Developers, asking them to discontinue the construction of a high-rise at Andheri
A bench of Justice Ramesh Dhanuka was dealing with a plea filed by Rustomjee Developers challenging the orders of the MHADA, which had asked the builder to stop its construction activities in Andheri West.
The developer and the MHADA had locked horns over the redevelopment of a housing society at DN Nagar, wherein the former had been accused of duping the residents of the society. The developer is accused of violating norms and committing numerous irregularities in the project. The allegations were levelled by Congress legislator Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan in the state assembly, after which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured of staying the project.
However, the MHADA officials failed to issue any orders in this regard and accordingly, Khan once again highlighted the matter before the House and this time, the newly appointed housing minister,
Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, had stated before the House that action would be taken soon.
The MHADA accordingly issued the stop work orders, which were premised on the ‘assurance’ given by the housing minister and also CM Fadnavis that they would take action against Rustomjee.
Having considered the facts of the matter, Justice Dhanuka said, “In my view, merely because an assurance is made by the minister on the floor of the assembly that action will be taken against a member of public dealing with MHADA, such assurance cannot be elevated to an order passed by the government to be binding on MHADA for initiation of action against a member of the public.”
“In my view, since MHADA has not demonstrated before this court that the government was of the opinion that the permission granted in favour of the developer would lead to abuse or misuse or would cause waste of the funds of the authority, the conditions prescribed in the rules are not satisfied in the facts of this case,” Justice Dhanuka ruled.
The court noted that the government secretary himself did not understand the proceedings in the House as imposing a stay and “quite rightly so, because the assembly could not, in the course of any debate, issue a stay. All that was noted (in the orders) was a statement made by the chief minister,” the bench noted.
The court further noted that such a stay cannot be granted by any minister on the floor of the House. “In my view, at the first instance, the minister himself could not have granted any stay on the floor of assembly against MHADA or could not have issued any direction to stop work notice and that also without following the provisions of law,” Justice Dhanuka held.
The court accordingly, quashed the stop work orders.