In what comes as a relief to the Mumbai Hockey Association (MHA), the Bombay City Civil Court set aside an order passed by the state government last October, asking the MHA to vacate the hockey ground and cancelling a 15-year lease granted to them in 2008.
Coming down heavily on the state government, judge SD Tulankar said in the order, “In my opinion, the action of cancellation of lease by the state government without giving sound reasons appears to be arbitrary and high-handed.” A copy of the order is with dna.
The state government, along with the deputy collector (the competent authority in this matter), had written to MHA in October 2012, saying they will revoke the lease and take immediate possession of the 2.19 lakh-sq-ft hockey ground in Churchgate.
The reasons cited were that the association had violated the lease agreement and used the land for commercial purposes after several hockey players had reportedly complained about the same.
But the order stated, “.the Respondent No. 1 (state government) suddenly cancelled the lease at the behest of some players who are allegedly aggrieved.”
The judge noted that the MHA had only temporarily let out the premises for marriage ceremonies in order to raise funds and it was done after taking the necessary permission.
“It was submitted that the order (date 17-10-2012) passed by the government was in violation of principles of natural justice and no personal hearing was granted to the appellants (MHA),” the order added.
MHA secretary Ram Singh Rathore said it was a huge victory for the association.
“The state government now has two options either challenge the order in the high court or sit and talk to us. I met the state sports minister and told him it would be better if we solve the entire issue amicably now. I hope that will happen.”