In a rare action, the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court goes incognito and catches a Builder’s lie.
By Alka Dhupkar, Mumbai Mirror | Updated: May 6, 2017, 08.05 AM IST
Final order likely next month; PIL says garden turned into clubhouse
Justice Chellur was stopped from entering a public park at Cuffe Parade, confirming allegations that the builder had turned it into a private space
A huge land parcel in south Mumbai will be thrown open to public after Manjula Chellur, chief justice of the Bombay High Court, inspected it incognito and found that allegations of a developer taking it over illegally were true.
Justice Chellur posed as a regular Mumbaikar out on a stroll last week when she was prevented by the builder’s security guards from entering the premises, abutting the 32-storey DSK Durgamata luxurious apartments at Cuffe Parade. It comes as no surprise that Justice Chellur, in her observation yesterday, said the premises should be restored as a public open space, and the security of the premises be taken over by the BMC. The matter has been posted for a final hearing next month. The case pertains to the 16,000 sq ft plot on Prakash Pethe Marg where DSK Developers were allowed to construct a gymnasium on 33% of the plot area. The remaining 67% – almost 11,000 sq ft – was to be developed for public usage.
A petition filed in HC by activist Sanjay Kokate said the builder usurped a plot to build a clubhouse, leaving little space for citizens. The petition added that the builder violated several conditions of the agreement with the BMC.
Nearly eight months after the petition was filed, the high court in March this year directed that a technical expert will inspect the plot. While an inspection committee submitted its report yesterday damning the builder, Justice Chellur, who experienced first-hand what hundreds of citizens attempting to access the garden go through, said the plot must be restored as public space immediately.
While representatives of DSK Developers refused to comment on Friday’s verdict, the inspection committee comprising officials of the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority and the Bombay HC said it found nothing for the public at the premises. In a seven-page report, the committee said, “We did not find any equipment for children to play… no swings, no slides, nor benches there. There was a garden which could, at best, be described as a `landscape garden’, not a recreation garden.”
The report also said there were no signs that said the plot was for public usage. “Entry to the said area is restricted by deploying security guards at the gate. The access way is used by the occupants of the DSK tower for ingress. We were stopped at the entrance by the security guards, and allowed to enter only after disclosing our identities,” the report said.
Petitioner Kokate’s lawyer Yusuf Iqbal Yusuf said the case was a classic example of a public property being converted for personal use. “An independent surveyor appointed by the HC last year prepared a fake report to favour DSK. The chief justice, however, appointed court officers to inspect the premises. Also, in the most proactive manner, the chief justice herself visited the premises without informing anyone and said she was also prevented from entering the premises. The court has now posted the matter to June for passing final orders,” Iqbal said.
(Reproduced from Mumbai Mirror.)