HomeDaily NewsReview South Bombay bungalow redevelopment nod, Mhada told.

Review South Bombay bungalow redevelopment nod, Mhada told.

MUMBAI: In partial success over a legal battle launched by some residents of Carmichael Road, also known as Millionaires Mile Road in south Mumbai, the Bombay high court directed the state housing authority to reconsider its approval for redevelopment of a two-storey bungalow, Villa Nirmala, into a 24-storey residential tower. The HC observed that authorities failed to apply its mind over relevant issues, including location of plot, width of abutting road and assignment of tenancy, while granting the clearance six years ago.

A bench of Justices Shantanu Kemkar and Nitin Sambre, invoking the doctrine of public interest, said the authorities are required “to strictly apply the law”, consider relevant facts, and “maintain transparency in dealing with request of parties like builder” for approval of plans to redevelop pre-1940 tenanted structures. “There should neither be any abuse of discretion nor… mechanical approach to the decision-making process,” said HC.

In 2016, Carmichael Road residents filed a PIL against the construction and permission granted to builder RA Realty Ventures by Mhada in 2012 and BMC in 2014. The petitioners included Normandie housing society, Prakash Patel of Usha Kiran building, Dilnar Chichgar of Mayflower building and Jyotsna Nevatia of Kamal Mahal building.

Over 80% of the structure is ready. The British-era villa was originally owned by Maharaja K K Shivajirao Gaekwar who had two tenants.

The HC did not restrain the construction, but said development would be subject to further proceedings and decision to be taken by Mhada and BMC afresh over clearing the project under DC Regulation 33(7) (permission to redevelop tenanted cessed buildings) and the height approval. But the HC, on request of the builder’s counsel, “stayed only that part of the judgment by which the authorities have been directed to reconsider the matter”.

It was an ‘A’ category cessed building (pre-1940), said Mhada counsel Prasad Dhakephalkar, entitled to greater FSI on redevelopment. Residents’ counsel, Janak Dwarkadas, argued that the bungalow ceased to be a cessed structure in 1975 with a conveyance of the 2 tenants into ownership. But counsel for the builder, R A Dada and Milind Sathe, argued that the tenancy had not ended. The builder has assigned the so-called tenancy to two new tenants in 2011, just before becoming the new landlord, argued Dwarkadas, and the approvals were valid as the building remained cessed. “The authority is also required to look into whether there is misrepresentation of vital facts,” said the HC.