The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging irregularity in granting additional Floor Space Index (FSI) for redevelopment of Pila House, a cessed building in the Kamathipura area. The court observed that the allegations are “unfounded and devoid of any merits”.
The redevelopment of Pila House was awarded to M/s Rubberwala Housing and Infrastructure Ltd after following due process in 2010. Category A cessed buildings were constructed prior to 1940 and have outlived their life. Pila House redevelopment commenced in 2014. However, the PIL was filed in Nov 2021. After demolition of the old building and obtaining permission from the BMC, three buildings were constructed up to the 17th floor at the site.
The PIL was filed by Asif Abdul Sattar, a partner in the shop ‘Suleman Usman Mithaiwala’ in the area. Sattar alleged that on Nov 12, 2020, BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal permitted FSI of 3 on gross plot area and FSI 1 on net plot area without assigning any reason. The PIL claimed Chahal had ignored the earlier orders of May 2017, June 2019 and Nov 2019 made by his predecessors.
Sattar had sought directions to the BMC to demolish part of the structure in excess of the cap / limit on the maximum permissible FSI. He further sought direction to Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority to acquire and possess the surplus built-up area of 664.31 sqm and fungible FSI thereon for appropriation thereof to the dishoused occupants of cessed buildings. He also sought action against errant BMC officers.
The BMC contended that the previous BMC Commissioners had also departed from professed policy and granted additional FSI based on individual cases.
Accepting the submission, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne dismissed the PIL. The court even took note of a clarification issued by the State Government supporting BMC action.
In December last year, the HC had directed Sattar to deposit Rs2 lakh to prove his bona fide. The court noted that Sattar had “selectively chosen the project for levelling serious allegations of FSI violation”. However, the court said that he seemed to have been alarmed by the rejection of three proposals by the previous two BMC commissioners for the said project.
Though the court has allowed Sattar to withdraw the amount deposited, it admonished him saying that he “ought to have been careful in levelling allegations against high ranking officials”.
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