The Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court that it will take more time to formulate a policy for conversion of occupancy class II lands (collector’s land) to class I lands (freehold).
An application was filed by the state government seeking extension of time by three more months to formulate the policy.
The HC, on September 9, had directed the state government to submit its policy by September 30 pointing out that the petition seeking conversion to freehold had been filed in 2014.
However, the government application said: “The Applicants at the outset tender their unconditional apology for not complying with the directions in the said Order dated 07.09.2023, of formulating a new policy for conversion of Class-II Lands to Class-I Lands, by paying concessional amount of premium charges within the time granted, upto 30.09.2023.”
Finance department yet to approve the proposal
The government said that the proposal has been sent to the finance department, which is yet to approve the same.
“Unless the concurrence from the finance department is received the proposal cannot be submitted for the approval of the cabinet with the consent of the chief minister,” the affidavit read.
Assuring the high court that it has “initiated appropriate steps to formulate a new policy”, the government has narrated ten steps that are required to be followed to formulate the said policy.
"Thus, it can be seen from the above (ten steps) that the entire process of formulating the new policy as stated hereinabove requires considerable time. The State Government would make all endeavours to complete the said process as expeditiously as possible and in any case within 3 months,” the affidavit read.
It further added: “It is submitted that, since objections from the public at large are required to be invited as mandated, certain reasonable time will have to be given to the public to raise their objections if any.”
Over 20,000 housing societies on collector’s land in state
According to the government, there are over 20,000 housing societies on collector’s land in the state. Of these, approximately 3,000 such housing societies are in the city. Majority of these are more than 40 years old and in a dilapidated state requiring urgent redevelopment.
In 2019 and in March 2023, the state issued two Government Resolutions (GR) allowing the conversion of these lands to freehold on payment of the 15% of Ready Reckoner Rate as premium.
However, as no steps were taken in this regard, several of these societies approached the HC.
The HC, on September 9, noted: “We are not happy with the speed, at which the decisions are being taken by the Government in this regard, primarily when a statement admittedly has been made by the Hon'ble Minister on the floor of the house that the premium charges would be reduced to 5%.” The HC also noted that the petitions were filed in 2014 and “in another few months we will complete a decade”.
“If the Government does not come with a decision that will be acceptable to the court, the court will proceed to hear the matter,” the HC had said.
The HC has kept the matter for hearing on December 14.