Bombay HC clears decks for redevelopment of building where Dawood has flats

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court cleared the decks for the redevelopment of the Haji Ismail Haji Habib Musafirkhana building in Bhendi Bazar. This building also houses flats of fugitive underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim.

The building will now be redeveloped by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT), which will rehabilitate all eligible tenants and shopkeepers, while the flats owned by Ibrahim will be handed over to a special TADA court, which had earlier seized his properties.

This comes after a bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla upheld the orders of the charity commissioner, who had allowed the sale of the Musafirkhana building to the SBUT. The sale orders were challenged by the tenants and shopkeepers of the building. They claimed that the building was a Wakf property and could not be sold.

The tenants also challenged the decision of the trust looking after the Musafirkhana building to sell the ground plus two storey structure to the SBUT.

The tenants demanded a stay on the charity commissioner's orders, as these meant the building could be demolished at any time.

On the other hand, the building's trust claimed that it had no funds and that the building was in a shambles.

Having heard the contentions, the bench concluded that the charity commissioner was 'satisfied' in allowing the sale of the structure, as it was in a dilapidated and dangerous state.

“The building was constructed in 1939. It is an old and dilapidated building which could fall and thus, needs to be demolished. The trust found that the income generated from the tenants would not be sufficient to carry out repairs,” noted Justice Dharmadhikari.

“The building was in a shambles. There was no hope for a builder to develop it, and thus trustees decided to sell the structure. The trustees did not have funds for redevelopment, thus their decision to sell the structure is justified,” Justice Dharmadhikari added.

The bench also noted that there were numerous encroachers in the building and that the several efforts of the trustees to evict the encroachers were in vain. The bench accordingly dismissed the petition filed by the shopkeepers and tenants of the building.

After the order was passed, the tenants urged the bench for a stay, so as to enable them to challenge it before the Supreme Court. The judges, however, refused to do so.

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