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MUMBAI: Agreeing with the findings of Bombay high court against civic officials, the Supreme Court on Friday said it was also a fit case for an inquiry into how prime Mumbai Central land which was acquired for expansion of Nair Hospital could be permitted to have been used for personal gain of a private individual—a builder.

The HC had last month directed Rubberwala Developers Pvt Ltd (now Rubberwala Housing and Infrastructure Ltd) and to vacate the premises reserved for the civic hospital’s expansion plan.

The builder had filed a petition before the SC to challenge the HC judgment. On November 11, the SC bench of Justices B R Gavai and B V Nagarathna said it agreed with the HC that some BMC officers acted in collusion with the builder to permit premises being transferred to Rubberwalla Developers from one Nalini Ben—an occupant of two godowns at Lal Chimney compound—and “permitting reconstruction under the garb of repairs and renovation.”

The land originally owned by Hindustan Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd was acquired by BMC in 1982 for Nair hospital.

In March 2013, BMC permitted the builder to occupy almost 5,000 sq ft as a licensee of godowns and changed the permitted ‘land use’ category and let him construct an office building in which he has his office. The builder has occupied the premises for 14 years, the HC bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik had noted while censuring the BMC for its “sheer apathy” to get back the premises and hand it over the Municipal hospital so that it could be used for public purposes.

The SC said, “We prima facie also agree with the HC that some of the officers of the corporation have gone out of their way in helping the petitioner, by ignoring the views of some of the officers of the corporation and the Dean of the Nair Hospital.”

The SC expressed its prima facie view that it was “a fit case for HC to have considered directing an inquiry into the affairs of the property” being permitted for the builder’s personal gain and in this aspect issued notice on his petition.

The builder represented by senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi made a categorical statement that Rubberwala developers would vacate the premises and hand them over to the BMC within a period directed by the SC. The SC in view of Rohatgi’s statement ordered status quo on possession of the premises till the next hearing date a month away.

Imran Qureshi, a Mumbai Central resident had originally filed the petition before Bombay HC in 2013 for orders to get the builder to vacate. The builder had quested his locus and the HC had in 2015 by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka said it could be heard suo motu by the court (on its own motion). The HC in its September 30 judgment said it was a case “where there has been gross abuse of powers at the cost of overwhelming public interest.”

Before the SC, Nabi Shah , a physically challenged, activist and resident of Sewri represented by Advocate Shahbaz Pathan appeared as a caveater in support of the HC order.


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