Bombay High Court pulls up Maharashtra government for delaying land allotment for new court building [11.3.2024]

The Bombay High Court on Monday rapped the Maharashtra government for delaying land allotment for the new court building in suburban Bandra, noting that the condition of the existing structure in south Mumbai was bad and lives of judicial officers were in peril because of it.

A division bench of Chief Justice Devendra Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor expressed displeasure with the state government for dragging its feet on the issue, and said it does not want to create an "unsavoury situation".

The bench was hearing a petition by lawyer Ahmed Abdi, alleging that the government had not complied with the high court's 2018 order on land allotment for the court building.

Last year, the government informed the bench that approval was given to grant 30 acres of land for a new high court building in Bandra, and the process was on to make necessary changes in the state revenue records, after which possession would be handed over.

Additional government pleader Abhay Patki informed the court on Monday that there were some existing structures on the proposed land that serve as residences for government officers.

The government will have to first figure out an alternate accommodation for those staff, he said.

The bench then sought to know if there was any plan in place to get the entire land vacated.

"The condition of the Bombay High Court building is well known. The condition of this building and also the annexe building is bad. Our officers work there. Their lives are in peril. They work in dangerous conditions. There is no space for storage... no space to walk... the stairs are in poor condition," Chief Justice Upadhyaya said.

The court then asked why there was no change in the revenue records till now.

"The government knew long back that the land was not vacant when it was earmarked for the high court building. Why was nothing done for so long? What is the plan for relocation?" the bench questioned.

Abdi told the court that the government was deliberately delaying the process and that it had no intention to allot the land for the court building.

The bench directed the government to file an affidavit by March 28 providing details of the steps it has taken so far to hand over the vacant land for the new court building.

The land earmarked in Bandra is expected to have central tribunals and chambers for lawyers along with the high court building, which will also house judges' quarters.

11 Mar 2024