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PIL says cos giving vacant land to builders: HC seeks response

Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has issued notices to Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and 15 companies to respond to a PIL alleging that land obtained by these establishments on certain conditions from Maharashtra Government were being used for real estate development.

The notices were issued by justices Anil Menon and S C Dharmadhikari, who asked the respondents to appear on June 18 in response to the PIL filed by Jitendra Awhad, MLA.

The PIL contended that on a plea by the respondent companies, the State Government has exempted their vacant land in excess of ceiling limit under the provisions of section 20(1) of Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act.

The orders of exemption of vacant land are passed on certain condition which lays down that such land would be used only for the purpose of Industry and any change in user of land would amount to breach of condition, said the PIL. If, at any time, the State finds that there is breach of condition it may withdraw the exemption after hearing the aggrieved entity.

The PIL said that the Act was repealed on November 29, 2007. However, the full bench of the Bombay High Court in case of Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industries Versus State of Maharashtra had held that the Repeal Act saved the validity of the order granting exemption to vacant land.

Therefore, section 20(1) of the Act, granting exemption to vacant lands, is saved in every respect and holds good in law, the PIL said.

The petition argued that the respondent companies were using their exempted vacant land for the purpose of Industry for a quite long time. However, since last few months, they have committed breach of the respective orders of exemption issued by the Government by using their exempted vacant lands other than the purpose of Industry.

Hence, the state is under legal obligation to withdraw the exemption, the PIL pleaded.

The petitioner said he would produce documents to show that the respondents were using land for purposes other than industry.

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