In a landmark judgement, Justice G S Patel at the Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, directed a developer to pay tenants, stipulated monthly rent by 5th of every month, failing which the permission granted for redevelopment project located at Wadala West, will be cancelled, without even a show cause notice.
The judge also directed that there will be an annual increase of rent by Rs.4000/- per month and there will be no variation of this under any circumstances. “In the event that a single cheque to any of these persons is dishonoured, I will give the developer, the liberty of making any other alternative arrangement for timely payment, but payment on time will be made without exception and with no scope for any extension. In unusual or extreme circumstance, a short and reasonable extension of time, may be granted, but it will not be more than 10 calendar days”, the judge noted.
The above directions were given in response to a contempt petition (No. 38/2017) (suit No. 2160/ 2009) by the judge, who observed that the developer had not paid rent to the tenants since May 2017 onwards, despite his earlier order passed on 14th February 2018.
The issue relates to the redevelopment of 32 BMC chawls, spread over 3 lakh square feet area (CTS No. 437). The plot used to accommodate 318 residential, 4 commercial tenants, one bal mandir and an experimental block. However, based on the Bombay High court order, the BMC evicted the tenants on 14 May 2015 under police protection and they were sent to transit camps.
These chawls were constructed by the BMC after the great Bombay dock explosion of 1944 and its employees were accommodated on rental basis. Subsequently they formed “Azad Nagar Bhadut Mandal” in 1980. In 1992-1993 they decided to go in for redevelopment under section 33(7) of the BMC Act and entrusted the work to “Parul Developers”. However there had been dispute among tenants and the architect as well as developer were changed.
Lately M/s East West Developers (a unit of RNA) was appointed as a developer. But the letter of intent (LOI) issued to him by BMC’s on 7 March 2005 expired on 29 March 2010 and the matter remained pending. Although there have been 159 tenants, due to dispute 66 tenants had reportedly been siding with the developer. Whereas remaining tenants were fighting a lonely battle. Of the remaining tenants, a group led by Vijay A Gosrani had filed a present contempt petition ( notice of Motion (L) No 827/2018) against East and West Developers.
Justice G S Patel also referred to the earlier order of Justice K R Shriram, according to which a rent of Rs.40,000/- was fixed and therefore was payable and was unaffected by his order of 14th February 2018.
The project was mired in controversy and there had been many irregularities, including alleged forging of signatures by some of the tenants by chief promoter. Subsequently FIRs (No 145/2013) and (No 308/2013) were registered with Economic Offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police and some of the committee members were arrested and later released on bail.