The High Court of Bombay passed a judgement on 04 May 2023 stating that that a land reservation for public parking, which had been in place for years, has lapsed due to the authorities’ failure to take necessary steps for acquisition. The case of SADASHIV TRYAMBAK RAJEBAHADUR & ORS. VS. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA & ORS IN WRIT PETITION NO. 1093 OF 2017 which was passed by the single bench comprising of HONOURABLE JUSTICE G. S. KULKARNI, KAMAL KHATA. The case sheds light on the importance of timely action by government bodies and the rights of landowners.
This petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution, seeking a Writ of Mandamus to declare Reservation No. 485 on Final Plot No. 131/1 and 131/2 in City Survey No. 352 & 352A as lapsed. The petitioner contends that the concerned authorities have neglected to take any steps for over two decades, either for purchasing or acquiring the land under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (“the MRTP Act”). Additionally, the petitioner highlights that the land should have been released from the reservation within a specific period of 12 months from the date of the Purchase notice issued on 8th July 2015, as stipulated by the Act. Considering these circumstances, the petitioner seeks the court’s declaration that the reservation has lapsed, effectively freeing the land from its reserved status.
In response to the purchase notice, the municipal corporation stated that the notice period would only commence upon submission of the petitioners’ documents. The parties engaged in correspondence regarding the production of title documents, while the petitioners argued that the reservation had lapsed due to the authorities’ failure to take necessary steps within the prescribed time frame. It was revealed through an application under the Right to Information Act that a land acquisition proposal for the plot had been pending before the Deputy Collector (Land Acquisition).
THE HIGH COURT’S JUDGMENT:
After hearing arguments from both sides, the Bombay High Court rendered a crucial judgment. The court held that the respondents’ contentions, which sought to continue the reservation on the petitioners’ plot, were contrary to established legal principles. Referring to previous rulings, the court emphasized that a draft development plan or revised development plan does not attain legal sanctity until it is sanctioned in accordance with the prescribed procedure under the MRTP Act.
The court further highlighted that the purchase notice issued by the petitioners was valid since it was served before the notification implementing the draft revised development plan. It rejected the contention that an amendment to the MRTP Act, extending the notice period to 24 months, should apply retrospectively. The court emphasized that the amendment did not have retrospective effect and, therefore, the lapse of the reservation occurred after twelve months from the date of the purchase notice.
Considering the above, the court allowed the writ petition, declared the reservation as lapsed, and directed the state government to notify the lapsing of the reservation in the Official Gazette. Additionally, the court instructed the authorities to consider any fresh plans for building permission submitted by the petitioners in an expedited manner.
The Bombay High Court’s judgment has significant implications for landowners and highlights the importance of adhering to legal procedures and timelines in land acquisition and development plans. The ruling reinforces the principle that a draft development plan or revised development plan cannot be considered final until it is sanctioned according to the prescribed process.
Furthermore, the judgment emphasizes that the officers of the planning authority are not authorized to investigate land titles and that the running of time for land acquisition is not contingent upon submission of title documents along with the purchase notice. These clarifications provide valuable guidance for future cases involving land acquisition and reservation issues.
The Bombay High Court’s judgment brings clarity to the lapse of land reservations due to inaction by authorities and the significance of adherence to legal procedures. The ruling ensures that landowners’ rights are protected and underscores the importance of timely and transparent decision-making by government bodies. This judgment serves as a precedent for similar cases and reinforces the principles of fairness and justice in land acquisition and development processes.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VETHIKA D PORWAL, BMS COLLEGE OF LAW