'CIDCO has right to auction plots in its possession, NMMC has no power to impose reservation': Bombay HC

'CIDCO has right to auction plots in its possession, NMMC has no power to impose reservation': Bombay HC

Terming the NMMC’s resolution dated December 13, 2019, passed in its General Body Meeting, as “bad and illegal”, Cidco has sought to quash the same.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, September 04, 2022, 08:40 PM IST
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CIDCO Bhavan, Navi Mumbai | File

The Bombay High Court has held that City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) has the right to auction the land which is in its possession and that the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has no power to impose its reservations on Cidco plots.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik observed: “There was no embargo or any restriction whatsoever on CIDCO to deal with such plots/lands and hold the auction of which the beneficiaries are private respondents."

“In the circumstances as discussed above, the NMMC, in law, neither could impose such reservation on CIDCO plots/lands as it was outside its power and authority to do so,” added the HC in its 127-page judgment.

The HC was hearing two public interest litigations (PILs) challenging the auction by Cidco of 12 plots contending that the NMMC had reserved some of these plots for public purposes.

Dismissing the PILs, the HC said: “With certitude, we conclude that Cidco has rightfully auctioned lands in question for the purpose of their development at the hands of the allottees, namely, the private respondents.”

The HC has permitted Cidco to take further steps regarding the allotment of plots, in accordance with the law.

The PILs by Nishant Bhagat and Sunil Garg raised the issue of the proposed reservation of certain plots of lands by NMMC for a public purpose in a proposed Draft Development Plan under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. Apart from setting aside the auction notice, the PIL had prayed that the NMMC publish a draft DP and make it available to the public for inspection.

However, the plots are vested with Cidco as a New Town Development Authority as constituted for the Navi Mumbai Area.

The petitioners contend that in view of the proposed reservation, these lands cannot be subjected to allotment by the CIDCO for residential/commercial purposes. The pleas were opposed by Cidco, the private allottees who won the auction bids and the Maharashtra government.

Cidco was set up as a New Town Development Authority for designated sites to form a new town area, New Bombay, now Navi Mumbai, which was by a notification dated 20 March 1971. This was much prior to the formation of the NMMC in the year 1991.

Cidco contended that the lands, which are proposed to be reserved by the NMMC were vested with it under the provisions of the MRTP Act, to develop and auction the same. Even after the formation of NMMC, Cidco’s power over these plots “remained disturbed”.

In January 2021, by public notice, Cidco invited bids to auction these lands for commercial and residential purposes. Consequent thereto, an auction was held between February 2021 and March 2021, which culminated in allotments of these plots in favour of private persons, which have stood finalised.

After the auction and allotment, the PILs were filed in May last year.

Terming the NMMC’s resolution dated December 13, 2019, passed in its General Body Meeting, as “bad and illegal”, Cidco has sought to quash the same.

On November 10, 2020, the government had called for a joint meeting of Cidco and NMMC. As per the Minutes of Meeting, the government asked the NMMC to delete the proposed reservations to 12 plots of CIDCO as included in the Draft DP in respect of which tenders were issued by the Cidco. Even Cidco was also directed to submit the details of 12 plots to NMMC, which it complied with.

The private parties opposed the plea contending that they participated in the auction of the plots by paying earnest money and other statutory charges under the assumption that there was no reservation on these plots and the same would be available to them for development.

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