Bombay High Court asks BEST workers’ union to decide on withdrawal of strike

The Bombay High Court has directed the BEST workers’ union to take a final decision on the withdrawal of its ongoing strike by Tuesday evening and inform the court on Wednesday.

The direction came after the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) told a bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N M Jamdar that it was willing to implement the redressal measure suggested by a high-powered committee on granting an interim pay hike to its employees.

The counsel for BEST, M P Rao, told the bench that the corporation was “open to implementing a 10-step increment” for its employees with effect from February this year.

The increase, however, will be implemented subject to the fact that the strike was called off this (Tuesday) evening, Rao told the bench.

As per the previous submissions made by the BEST workers’ union and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the court, a ‘one-step’ increase in pay for BEST workers amounts to around Rs 330 per person per month.

In compliance with the court’s previous orders, the state government through Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, submitted a list of measures recommended by the committee to address the demands raised by the workers’ union.

The committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, was constituted by the state last week.

The committee in its report, has recommended among other things, that subject to the strike being called off, as an interim measure, workers be granted a ’10-step increase’ in salary for about 15,000 employees in a time-bound manner.

This amount of increment, however, will be subsumed in the final agreement.

It also recommended that upgradation and modernisation measures be implemented within the BEST, but no existing employees should be retrenched.

The bench has been hearing since last week a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by lawyer Datta Mane, urging the court to pass interim orders directing the BEST workers to call off the strike immediately.

Around 38,000 BEST employees have been on strike since the last eight days now.

Some of their demands include a pay hike, revision of pay grade for junior level employees, and the merger of BEST’s budget with that of the BMC.

High Court: BMC needs to follow due process of law to take over park

The Bombay High Court today said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot take possession of the 20-acre Priyadarshini Park in south Mumbai without following the due process of law.
The park, situated on the Nepean Sea road, is being maintained since 1985 by the Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum.
In April last year, the civic body had passed an order, seeking to take possession of the park and to evict the forum.

The order was passed in accordance with a recent policy by which the BMC decided to take over all public parks and gardens, including those entrusted to private trusts for maintenance.

The Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum had approached the high court challenging the April 2017 order of the BMC.

After hearing arguments in the case, a division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla today opined that the impugned order was passed without following due process of law.

“The petitioner cannot be evicted in such a manner. The corporation will have to follow due process of law before passing such orders,” the court said.

The bench quashed and set aside the order and disposed of the petition.

BMC needs to follow due process of law to take over Priyadarshini park, says Bombay High Court

In a landmark decision, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot take possession of the 20-acre Priyadarshini Park in south Mumbai without following the due process of law.

The park, situated on the Nepean Sea road, is being maintained since 1985 by the Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum.

In April last year, the civic body had passed an order, seeking to take possession of the park and to evict the forum.

The order was passed in accordance with a recent policy by which the BMC decided to take over all public parks and gardens, including those entrusted to private trusts for maintenance.

The Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum had approached the high court challenging the April 2017 order of the BMC.

After hearing arguments in the case, a division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla today opined that the impugned order was passed without following due process of law.

“The petitioner cannot be evicted in such a manner. The corporation will have to follow due process of law before passing such orders,” the court said.

The bench quashed and set aside the order and disposed of the petition.

Which law allows you to turn private toilets into public ones : Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court today asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to explain the provisions under which the civic body had decided to convert ‘private toilets’ into public ones under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Iqbal Chagla was hearing a writ petition filed by owners of various petrol pumps from across Mumbai, along with the petrol pump association.

The petitioners were seeking a stay on a notice issued by the civic body on December 22, 2017, under which the BMC had put up signboards across all such stations informing the public to utilise the toilets at petrol pumps.

“It is your obligation to build toilets (under Swachh Bharat Mission). While you do not do that, instead you make private toilets into public toilets,” the bench said.

The petitioners had told the high court that they had been directed by the BMC to make toilets at their stations or premises available for the use of general public free of cost under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

The civic body has also put up signboards to the effect at various petrol pumps, the petitioners said.

“What is the source of power that allows BMC to claim that toilets inside private petrol pumps are public toilets?” questioned the court.

The counsel for the BMC said that the corporation had done so to further the cause of the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Mission.

“A meeting was held and the petitioners had allowed us to use these toilets for public purpose during emergency,” said the counsel.

Justice A S Oka said that action under the Swachh Bharat Mission or any other scheme of the Union government also had to be in accordance to law.

“Which law can allow you to convert private toilets into public toilets,” Justice Oka asked.

He also pointed out that as per the minutes of the meeting submitted by the petitioners, they had never allowed the civic body access to toilets in petrol pumps for general public.

“You cannot put up boards outside their properties saying that the toilets in their premises are public toilets.

How can you do that following the Swachh Bharat Mission. Show us where it says so,” said the court.

The court has now asked the civic body to take instruction in the matter by Wednesday.

“You cannot do this. Take instructions that you will not do this in a private property. The Swachh Bharat Mission cannot affect the rights of others like this. You cannot put up boards without consent of the petrol pump owners. You will have to remove the boards wherever it is required. Otherwise we will have to pass relevant orders,” the high court said.

BMC Manholes would be covered : Bombay High Court

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) today told the Bombay High Court that around 1,500 manholes in the city would be covered to prevent accidents.

BMC lawyer Anil Sakhre said the corporation has already floated tenders for covering some 1,500 potentially-dangerous manholes with iron mesh or grill.

BMC’s submission was made before a bench of justices Shantanu Kemkar and M S Karnik which was hearing a public interest litigation.

The PIL was filed after Dr Deepak Amrapurkar, a renowned gastroenterologist from the city, died after falling into an open manhole on a flooded street near his house on August 29 last year.

The petitioners demanded action for preventing such accidents in future.

The BMC lawyer told the high court that in Amrapurkar’s case, the manhole had been removed illegally by some local residents so that the flood water could drain off. Police registered cases against them, advocate Sakhre added.

BMC workers never leave manholes open or unattended, the corporation lawyer said.

The court directed the BMC to file an affidavit within two weeks giving details of the proposal to cover manholes with iron grills and the tender floated for the same.

State must acquire private land within fixed time period: Bombay HC

State must acquire private land within fixed time period: Bombay HC
State must acquire private land within fixed time period: Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court has observed that the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot hold on to a private plot of land without officially acquiring it within the period stipulated under the Land Acquisition Act.

A bench of Justices Riyaz Chagla and Vasanti Naik observed this recently while hearing a petition filed by city resident Hasan Ali Jetha.

As per Jetha’s plea, he owns plots of land in Mazgaon area of the city.

In 1964, the Maharashtra government decided to use one of his plots for developing an open public space. While the plan was notified in the corresponding development plan (DP) for the year, in 1986 the state government changed its mind and decided against acquiring the land.

However, the state government failed to follow the procedure of issuing the mandatory notification to show that the plot had been deleted from the list of reserved plots.

Thus, much confusion occurred and in the next DP notified in 1991, the land continued to be shown as reserved for the public space that was to be developed by the BMC.

Jetha approached the BMC and the state seeking his land be shown as de-reserved and he be allowed to develop it for his use.

However, the state authorities did not offer help and he finally approached the high court.

In 2007, another bench of the high court had held that the government’s notification seeking acquisition of Jetha’s land had lapsed and thus, his rights over the said plot of land must be restored.

However, even the draft development plan for 2013-14 continued showing Jetha’s plot as reserved for the public space project, the BMC rejected his request for permission to develop the land for his own use.

He then approached the Bombay HC again arguing that the authorities were not justified in including his land in the draft DP and that the state’s failure to issue the notification to delete his plot from the list of reserved plots was “bad in law”.

However, in a hearing held earlier this month, the counsel for BMC told the HC that in 2003, it had deposited with the state government the amount that was liable to be paid to Jetha towards acquisition of the said land.

“The state government therefore, should have taken some steps to ensure that the land of the petitioner was acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894,” the BMC said.

The bench, however, held earlier this month that the state and the BMC were bound to execute the 2007 order of HC to de-reserve Jetha’s plot.

“In the circumstances of the case, the petitioner is entitled to the relief claimed,” it said.

The court had allowed his petition in 2007, and had declared that there was a deemed lapse of reservation in respect of the land of the petitioner since no steps were taken by the authorities for the acquisition of the land within the time stipulated, the bench said.

It also observed that it was necessary for the state government to issue a formal notification within a time frame (to de-reserve it).

The bench also directed the BMC to expeditiously decide upon Jetha’s application seeking permission to develop the said land on his own.

The court, however, added that if the state and the BMC were still interested in acquiring the said plot of land, they were free to initiate fresh action in accordance with the Land acquisition Act.

( Source – PTI )

Explain logic behind appointing senior lawyers for petty matters

Explain logic behind appointing senior lawyers for petty matters
Explain logic behind appointing senior lawyers for petty matters

Irked by the “lackadaisical response” of the BMC lawyers in “several important” cases, the Bombay High Court has directed the civic body to explain the logic it employs for leaving these cases to “not-so-capable” advocates while engaging services of “senior counsel for petty matters”.

The court directed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to file an affidavit on the issue by September 7 this year.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and MS Karnik said that considering that the corporation pays these lawyers using funds from the “public exchequer”, it owes an explanation to the court and to the public for leaving the “important cases to not-so-capable lawyers.”.

“There is no doubt that it is the sweet choice of a litigant to engage whichever lawyer it wants to. However, the BMC runs on the money that it receives from the public exchequer. It ultimately spends the tax payers’ money,” the bench said.

“Therefore, we direct the BMC to personally file an affidavit explaining the logic behind the corporation’s policy to engage senior counsel for petty matters, and leaving the important matters to those lawyers who are on its payroll,” it said.

The bench also directed the BMC Commissioner to explain, in the affidavit, why “there is always an inordinate delay on part of the corporation when it comes to submitting its replies and affidavits in cases where it is a party.”

It warned that if it finds the explanations in the affidavit to be “unsatisfactory”, it will be “constrained to summon the BMC Commissioner to court”.

The directions came while the court was hearing a petition filed by a real estate developer challenging an adverse order of the National Green Tribunal.

Not only had the Corporation delayed filing its reply in the case, but its lawyer also failed to satisfy the court’s queries on the Union government’s policies and environmental rules relevant to the case.

“We are taking judicial notice of some old newspaper reports that say that the BMC spends hundreds of crores on legal fees paid to senior lawyers. We have also noticed that even in petty matters concerning demolition of unauthorised structures, the services of senior lawyers are engaged.

“However, in cases like the present that involve complicated issues, interpretation of laws and so, we find that BMC is being defended by a lawyer who is an employee of the corporation.

“We fail to appreciate the rationale behind leaving important matters that have bearings on the fate of many to the mercy of a lawyer who is not equipped to meet the challenges raised by the other side,” the bench said.

( Source – PTI )

Bombay HC bars govt from unseating corporator over caste issue

Bombay HC bars govt from unseating corporator over caste issue
Bombay HC bars govt from unseating corporator over caste issue

The Bombay High Court today restrained the state government and the civic body from disqualifying Congress corporator from suburban Kalina, Tulip Miranda over the issue of her caste validity certificate.

The caste verification committee, on August 14, rejected Miranda’s claim of belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC), and declared her caste certificate invalid.

She moved the court against the committee’s action, and also sought an interim direction to the government, fearing disqualification as a corporator.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and M S Karnik directed the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) not to disqualify her till further orders.

The court also asked the state, the BMC, and the caste verification committee to file their replies within two weeks.

Miranda had won from ward number 90 in Kalina, reserved for OBC candidates, in the civic elections in February.

However, Bandra district divisional caste scrutiny committee held that she did not fall in the OBC category, and rejected her claim of being an East Indian Catholic.

Miranda’s petition said she belonged to the East Indian Catholic community, an ethno-religious community belonging to OBC category, as recognised by the state.

( Source – PTI )

Bombay HC declines stay on BMC resolution on yoga

Bombay HC declines stay on BMC resolution on yoga
Bombay HC declines stay on BMC resolution on yoga

The Bombay High Court today declined to grant an interim stay on implementation of a resolution making yoga and ‘Surya Namaskar’ (sun salutation) mandatory in civic schools in the metropolis, saying it is just a form of exercise which is good for the body.

Masood Ansari, a social worker, had filed a public interest litigation in the HC challenging the August 23 resolution passed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), contending that it violated fundamental rights and is “malafide and bad in law”.

According to the petitioner, children attending BMC- run schools mainly belong to poorer sections of society and come from all religions, castes and communities.

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M S Sonak, however, observed that people should not look at it just by the name ‘Suryanamaskar’.

“Don’t go by the name… it is just a form of exercise which is good for the body,” Chief Justice Chellur said.

The HC, while posting the petition for further hearing after two weeks, declined to grant an interim stay on implementation of the resolution.

Anjali Awasthi, counsel for the petitioner, argued today that minor students cannot be expected to perform `Surya Namaskar’, which a combination of 12 `asanas’, daily.

To this, the HC said it would consider this argument at a later stage and would call for a report to ascertain if the sun salutation exercise can be performed by minors.

( Source – PTI )

sutlej yamuna link

Road repair work to be completed prior to monsoon: BMC to Bombay HC

Road repair work to be completed prior to monsoon: BMC to Bombay HC
Road repair work to be completed prior to monsoon: BMC to Bombay HC

90% of road repair and maintenance work in the city has been completed and the remaining 10% will be carried out before the onset of monsoon, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court.

A division bench of Justices Shantanu Kemkar and M S Karnik was hearing a suo-moto public interest litigation on the issue of rising number of potholes in the city which was leading to accidents and deaths of motorists.

On the last hearing, the court had asked the civic body to ensure that all major roads and arterial roads in the city are repaired and are potholes-free before monsoon.

BMC counsel Anil Sakhare on Wednesday submitted a compliance report to the court informing it about the work completed by the corporation.

“Road repair and maintenance work is an ongoing process. Till now 90% work is over and the remaining will be completed within the next ten days. During monsoon, the civic body will continue inspecting the roads for maintenance work,” Sakhare said.

Sakhare said two helpline numbers have also been set up for citizens to call and lodge complaints and a mobile App has also been launched.

He also said that advertisements regarding this have been given in two newspapers till now, to which the court said the BMC should give more advertisements in the coming week.

“The ads should be large so that people can see it easily. Advertisements of politicians and even civic bodies are full page ads then why not these too,” Justice Kemkar said.

The court has posted the petition for further hearing on June 15.

( Source – PTI )