'Wrongful Issuance' Of Photo Passes By MHADA, A Matter Of 'Concern': Bombay HC

'Wrongful Issuance' Of Photo Passes By MHADA, A Matter Of 'Concern': Bombay HC

A photo pass is issued by MHADA to persons declaring them as eligible for rehabilitation in a redevelopment project. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on August 8.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, July 23, 2023, 01:07 PM IST
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Observing that “wrongful issuance” of photo passes to thousands of individuals by MHADA, thereby declaring them eligible for rehabilitation, was a matter of “concern”, the Bombay High Court has directed to convert the issue into a public interest litigation (PIL). | Photo: Representational Image

Observing that “wrongful issuance” of photo passes to thousands of individuals by MHADA, thereby declaring them eligible for rehabilitation, was a matter of “concern”, the Bombay High Court has directed to convert the issue into a public interest litigation (PIL). A photo pass is issued by MHADA to persons declaring them as eligible for rehabilitation in a redevelopment project.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale, on July 19, said: “What Mr Lad (PG Lad, advocate for MHADA) is submitting to us is not confined to our matter. It is undoubtedly a much wider concern, and in our view requires to be taken up and treated as a Public Interest Litigation (“PIL”).” The HC has directed the high court registry to institute a PIL to be captioned in the matter of photo passes on MHADA layouts in Mumbai and issue notice to the state government.

The HC was hearing a petition filed by Sai Vihar Society at Kannamwar Nagar in Vikhroli East seeking removal of encroachment on their society’s premises which was delaying redevelopment of their cessed three-floor dilapidated building. According to the petition, nine commercial structures allegedly encroached on a 138 sq m area on the plot.Earlier in March, the HC had asked as to why MHADA was “powerless” to remove the illegal encroachment and asked the housing authority to give details of the number of photo passes issued.

During the hearing on July 19, the HC noted: “We have already accepted that the structure of the tenanted building (Sai Vihar) is dangerous and is dilapidated. But we have also noted a peculiar condition on site that there are certain persons who are allegedly unauthorised occupants of a corner of the plot.”

Lad informed the HC that they have initiated action under 95A(3) of the MHADA Act for eviction and granted time till August 2 to complete this exercise. Lad added that the process also involves the cancellation of photo identity cards which have been wrongly issued to these people although they were not entitled to it.He pointed out to the Court that there are several thousand cases where photo passes have been wrongfully issued to individuals and this is interfering with the proper, orderly and systematic redevelopment of buildings.

“A chart prepared by MHADA showed 15 separate MHADA layout locations which showed 2,500 such photo passes were issued,” the bench noted.The continued presence on site of persons holding photo passes is bound to interfere with the redevelopment of the MHADA layouts, added Lad.“Until this is done the entire redevelopment will be at a standstill… there will be a large number of cases of buildings that are constantly deteriorating and becoming more and more dilapidated thus endangering the lives of MHADA occupants of those buildings,” the bench said, adding: “Societies will thus not be able to develop their buildings because of the continued presence of these ‘photo pass holders’, typically occupying portions of the open area on the ground floor in some form of structure or the other which interferes with the development process.”The HC has kept the matter for hearing on August 8.

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