Observing that it was necessary to obtain a report from an independent agency to “arrive at a just decision”, the Bombay High Court on Friday directed an architect to visit a plot of land in Khar next to St Elias High School – where a developer went ahead with the construction despite a stay on it by the Supreme Court in 1995 – and submit a report.
A division bench is Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik said: “To enable us to arrive at a just decision, we find it appropriate to obtain a report from an independent agency as to the extent of vacant land in Survey 1143 (plot) and the extent to which the construction is being carried out on it.”
On April 23, 1995, the Supreme Court had stayed construction on the 6,000 sqm plot since it was reserved as recreational ground (RG) / playground (PG) in the Revised Development Plan of 1992. Despite the stay order, the Slum rehabilitation Authority (SRA) permitted the developer – Integrated Realty Project – to construct on the plot.
The HC was informed of this on November 29 and the court stayed further construction on the plot.
Once again on Thursday, the court was informed that construction was still on.
The SRA submitted a communication dated August 17 stating that, as per a joint demarcation by BMC and the collector, the boundaries have changed and the plot for the playground is reduced to 5255 sq m.
The court then noted that in view of rival claims it was necessary to ascertain the area of the vacant land which is to be kept as PG.
The judges requested Amol Shetgiri, a partner at Shetgiri & Associates “to submit a report before this Court as to the exact extent of vacant land available excluding the portion on which the construction is being carried out by the developer on Survey No. 1143.”
The judges noted that Shetgiri agreed to remain present at the site at 12 pm on Saturday for inspection of the plot.
After Shetgiri agreed to remain present at the site on Saturday at noon, the court directed the collector depute the concerned field survey officer at the site to assist Shetgiri. The court has also said that the representatives of the petitioners, developer, BMC may remain present at the time of inspection.
Shetgiri has been requested to submit his report on August 29 and posted the hearing a day later.