Bombay High Court Rejects Developer's Plea; Highlights Two-Decade Delay In Slum Rehabilitation Scheme

Bombay High Court Rejects Developer's Plea; Highlights Two-Decade Delay In Slum Rehabilitation Scheme

Justice Milind Jadhav imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on Surjit Singh Arora of Sukhamani Construction.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, January 10, 2024, 09:17 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

The Bombay High Court dismissed a plea by a developer challenging the termination of his appointment for a slum rehabilitation scheme in Khar West, noting that the prolonged delay of over two decades had "virtually sounded a death knell for the project for over 100 slum-dwellers" and that "a whole generation has been wiped out in the past 25 years."

Justice Milind Jadhav imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on Surjit Singh Arora of Sukhamani Construction.

The court heard a petition filed by Arora challenging the orders of the chief executive officer of the Slum Redevelopment Authority on May 17, 2022, and an order passed by the Apex Grievance Redressal Committee on September 29, 2022.

According to the plea, Arora purchased a property measuring 2,204.04 square meters for Rs 4.75 lakh in July 1998. In the same year, 96 of the 148 slum dwellers were certified as eligible, and a slum rehabilitation scheme was sanctioned.

Arora was appointed as a developer for the project in October 1998, and a commencement certificate (CC) was issued in May 1999 for carrying out work up to the plinth level for the rehab building. However, by 2003, a building of ground plus seven floors with 116 rehab tenements with a 225 square feet carpet area each were constructed.

The Slum Redevelopment Authority issued a stop-work notice in November 2003. In 2004, Arora was allowed to construct, subject to conditions.

The property was sold with conditions in June 2014. The court noted that between 2004 and 2014, no work was undertaken for the redevelopment.

A show-cause notice was issued to Arora in 2018, citing inordinate delay in the project implementation.

In 2019, the developer revised the development scheme and agreed to demolish the existing building. After the Covid pandemic, in November 2021, the society passed a resolution to remove Arora as the developer due to the delay and failure to pay transit rent. In 2022, the authorities issued the termination orders.

Justice Jadhav remarked that there was a "complete stalemate" on the development front between 2004 and 2018, severely prejudicing the scheme's implementation. The petitioner was "disinterested, negligent, and lethargic," and the slum scheme had yet to take off, the court noted in a detailed 49-page judgment. The court underlined that allowing such a developer to continue would be a devastating decision, dismissing the developer's petition.

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