The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the plea of residents of illegal flats in Mumbai's Campa Cola Housing Society against the earlier order asking them to vacate their premises by May 31.
"We are of the view that the present petition is misconceived and hence, dismissed," a bench comprising justices JS Khehar and C Nagappan said. The bench also rejected the submission that at least the illegal flats be not demolished till the time apex court decides the curative petition of residents association in the case.
"It is a big humanitarian problem. 140 families have been asked to vacate the premises with no other place to go," senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for the residents association, said, adding that, he was not advancing any arguments on legal grounds as it is nearly a mercy plea. "
Every case has a humanitarian issue. Otherwise there was no need for having courts," the bench said.
The residents association said the illegal flats owner may vacate the premises but they (flats) should not be demolished till the disposal of the curative petition in the case.
The association, in its plea, had sought a direction to Maharashtra government and Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay that they be asked not to demolish the illegal flats in the buildings till the apex court decides the petition. "Allow the present writ petition filed by the petitioner Association before this court and issue writ of Mandamus or Certiorari or any other appropriate writ or directions, directing the respondents not to demolish the building or take any other coercive steps till the outcome of the present writ petition," the plea had said. It had said that the association has come across certain facts, which never came out, under the Right to Information Act and they (facts) warrant fresh hearing of the case.
The plea had said the state and the civic body, way back in 1985 and 1986, had decided to regularise the illegal construction.
"Direct the respondents to adhere to their decisions of regularising the construction as revealed from the letters dated July 3, 1986 and minutes of meeting dated July 23, 85...," it had said.
The court, on November 19 last year, had asked the flats owners at the society to vacate their houses by May 31 as no specific proposal could be worked out to provide them space in the compound for construction of new building. Earlier, on February 27 last year, it had ordered the municipal body to demolish the illegal flats. Later, on October 1, it refused to re-consider the earlier order and set November 11 last year as the deadline to vacate 102 illegal flats.
However, as the November 11 deadline approached, the residents protested the eviction. The court then took note of the media reports and extended the time till May 31 for vacating the premises. Besides seeking a stay on the eviction and demolition, the fresh plea had also said that the matter be sent back to Bombay High Court for fresh hearing on the basis of new facts procured under RTI.
During one of the earlier hearings, the state government had said that there was a need for a permanent solution. Then Attorney General GE Vahanvati had said unauthorised construction has to go but the flat owners should be given opportunity to construct a building in the campus without affecting the apex court order. However, the suggested solution did not fructify.
Seven high-rise buildings of Campa Cola Housing Society were constructed between 1981 and 1989. The builders had permission for only six floors. One of the compound buildings, Midtown, has 20 floors and another building, Orchid, has got 17 floors.