Mumbai: The Bombay High Court (HC) on Wednesday allowed the BMC to intervene in the Maharashtra government’s petition challenging the suo motu (on its own) cognisance taken by the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) of the non-renewal of the lease of Mahalaxmi Race Course land.
MSHRC, on September 8, 2022, took suo motu cognisance of a news report which said that the Royal Western India Turf Club’s (RWITC) lease had expired in May 2013 and the same was not renewed. The MSHRC observed that the 220 acre of land is in possession of a particular institution “without paying a single paisa” to the state government or BMC.
The HC, on March 8, stayed the proceedings before the MSHRC following a plea by the Urban Development Department. The BMC filed intervention through advocate Yashodeep Deshmukh contending that the corporation is “equally aggrieved” by the MSHRC orders since its officers were summoned and the cost was imposed on them. Deshmukh said that the commission does not have jurisdiction over such issues. Besides, there is no question of violation of human rights in non-renewal of the lease, he added.
Following summons by the commission, the BMC informed it that the corporation does not intend to renew the license since it proposes to construct a theme park on the land. The BMC owns 1/3rd of the land on which the race course stands and the remaining is owned by the Maharashtra government, hence there is a joint lease. The corporation has sent the proposal for constructing a theme park to the Maharashtra government and is awaiting a response.
“The applicant (BMC) without being at fault has wrongly been proceeded against without any basis by the commission acting illegally and without or in excess of jurisdiction conferred on it under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993,” read the BMC application.
The judges questioned what is the human rights violation in the matter and whether non-renewal of the lease by BMC and loss of revenue is a human rights violations. They said if it is contended that “it is a human right to have an open ground, we certainly don’t mind”. Continuing the stay, the HC kept the matter for hearing in June.
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