‘Our Officers Live In Peril’: Bombay HC Raps Govt For Delaying Handing Over Vacant Plot For New Building At BKC

‘Our Officers Live In Peril’: Bombay HC Raps Govt For Delaying Handing Over Vacant Plot For New Building At BKC

The court also chastised the government for going slow in handing over the plot, which was encumbered, saying it does not want to create any “unsavoury situation”.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, March 11, 2024, 05:33 PM IST
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Bombay HC | PTI

Mumbai: Rapping the Maharashtra government for delaying the procedure of handing over the land for construction of the new high court building at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), the Bombay High Court said that the condition of the existing structure in South Mumbai was bad and the lives of its judicial officers’ are in peril.

The court also chastised the government for going slow in handing over the plot, which was encumbered, saying it does not want to create any “unsavoury situation”.

The HC was hearing a petition filed by Advocate Ahmad Abdi seeking to initiate contempt of court action against the government for non-compliance with a 2019 High Court order on land allotment.

The government had informed the high court on March 30, 2023, that an approval has been given to grant 30 acre land for the new HC building in BKC. The government had also assured that the process was initiated to make necessary changes in the state revenue records after which possession would be handed over. On May 25, 2023, it called upon the High Court Registrar to depute a representative to take advance possession of the land.

During the hearing on Monday, additional government pleader Abhay Patki informed a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor that there are some structures on the proposed land which are used as residences for government officers. Patki said that the government will have to first work out alternate accommodation for the staff before handing over the land.

The bench questioned the government whether it had any plan to vacate the land and hand over the possession to the high court without any encumbrances.

“The condition of the Bombay High Court building is well known. The condition of this building and also the annexe building is bad. Our officers work there. Their lives are in peril. They work in dangerous conditions. There is no space for storage…to walk…the stairs are in poor condition,” the CJ said.

Also, the bench questioned the government on why the changes have not been made in the revenue records. “The government knew long back that the land was not vacant when it was earmarked for the HC building. Why was nothing done for so long? What is the plan for relocation?” the judges asked.

Abdi alleged that nothing was being done on the ground and the government was making false promises to the court. The high court directed the competent authority of the state government to file an affidavit “giving details of the steps taken so far for handing over vacant land for construction of the new HC building”. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on March 28.

The land allotted at BKC will house HC building spread over 21 acres. Along with that, it is also expected to have central tribunals as well as chambers for lawyers spread over 8.9 acres. A portion of the land is proposed to be commercially developed for lawyers' chambers, through which the government plans to receive revenue. 

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