The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that it has not yet decided on the proposed construction of a theme park at the Mahalaxmi race course in south Mumbai. Advocate General (AG) Birendra Saraf also said that the three petitions filed against the usage of the race course for a theme park were premature.
A division bench heard three pleas regarding the development of a theme park at the racecourse
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata was hearing three petitions filed by people claiming to be environmentalists challenging the decision of the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to develop a theme park at the racecourse, which is spread over 120 acres in the heart of the city.
The petitions contended that the decision was 'arbitrary, capricious, and patently illegal' and that the race course was one of the few remaining large open spaces in the city and converting it into a theme park would be an 'environmental disaster.' They relied on a meeting held in December 2023 between the Maharashtra Chief Minister, BMC and the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), which operated the racecourse. In this meeting, it was purportedly decided to develop a theme park at the race course.
'Pleas against proposed theme park are 'premature', said Maha Govt
Opposing the petitions, Saraf said they were premature as no final decision had been made yet. "It is still at a proposal stage…ideation stage. Nothing is crystallized now. It is not like the Chief Minister takes one meeting and a final decision is taken," Saraf said.
The petitions said that RWITC will be holding an extraordinary general meeting on January 30 to extend their lease as per the terms decided in the December meeting.
The Maharashtra government has not made any decision yet
Saraf emphasised that the government has not taken any decision on what to do with the land as on date. "There is no crystalised decision on any amusement park on the land. Amusement park is one of the ideas that is all. How can the government be restrained from even considering ideas," he added.
The AG said the RWITC would have to first take a decision in its meeting and send its proposal. The same would then have to go through a procedure of being sent to each of the concerned departments of the state.
BMC Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi and advocate Joel Carlos contended that the petitions were based on speculations. They also contended that the petitions were in the nature of public interest litigation and, hence, ought to be heard by the bench assigned to hear PILs.
The bench then directed the HC's registry to place the matters before the Chief Justice on the administrative side to seek appropriate order on which bench should hear the pleas. After the order, the petitioners mentioned the pleas before a division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor. The CJ said that he would go through the same and pass appropriate orders.