THE Bombay High court has admitted a writ petition filed by Oberoi Splendor Flat Owners Association (OSFOA) against two high-rise buildings, Grande and Prisma, constructed by notorious builder Vikas Oberoi.
A division bench of Justices Naresh H Patil and Justice M.S. Karnik has admitted the writ petition seeking to declare the approvals granted by the Brihannmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that are not in accordance with provisions of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966, and other such relief about the violation of FSI norms and requirements under the Development Control Regulation, 1991.
There are two writ petitions that have been filed, one by Sudhir Agarwal in 2014 and one by Mohit Bhardwaj in 2015,challenging the action of the BMC to approve conversion of public plot into private plot without notification and why a public space should be given for free to the developer to construct expensive flats for his own benefit when there is dearth of open and amenity spaces in Mumbai.
Sudhir Agrawal and Mohit Bhardwaj are residents of the same layout, Oberoi Splendor, constructed by Vikas Oberoi. Mohit Bhardwaj is appearing in court in person.
Agrawal and Bhardwaj also claimed that there is jugglery in FSI and their building was constructed as per the requirements of DC rules and that they were cheated of the mandatory recreation ground.
What is admission of writ petition in Court?
A registered case is placed before the court for preliminary hearing and after the respondents are heard, the court finding that facts and law points raised by petitioners deserve detailed hearing may admit the matter instead of dismissing if no substance is found in the petition.
The matter in the writ petition
The agreement between flat buyers and the developer Oberoi Realty shows only one residential project that is the six-wings A-F of Oberoi Splendor and almost all FSI was consumed in this project.
When the buyers took possession in early 2012 they found in place of amenity space promised and shown in the agreement, one 27-storey building called Grande is coming up where there was to be open ground and amenity space. The flat owners felt cheated and were constrained to get documents to see where the FSI for the building is generated from. After getting all the documents under RTI the flat owners were shocked to note that the DP reserved areas were usurped by Oberoi Realty as his own private land and BMC was hand-in-glove with builder Vikas Oberoi to allow this against the provisions of law.
The law states that all DP reservation land (since it is public property) must vest with the BMC, but no efforts were made by the BMC to acquire this land and further allowed as private plot enabling generation of FSI out of thin air. Later flat owners found that even the calculation of FSI is fraudulently done to generate enough FSI for another two buildings called Prisma and soon to be launched Maxima. It was shocking that after consumption of all FSI in the Oberoi Splendor building, another three buildings could be planned. This is nothing but jugglery, it’s not that FSI of the plot is increased and so developer could construct additional buildings, the FSI limit is same as it was in 2006 or 2008 or 2012.
The court, however, did not feel the need to direct the Corporation to stop work at this stage, but categorically confirmed that construction of such building will be pulled down if the construction is found illegal and unauthorized.
The flat owners are happy that their struggle to get the BMC to act against the builder is starting to take effect by admittance of the case on merits and they will take further steps to expedite the hearing in the case.
The flat owners are worried that the developer will hide such vital information from general public and keep selling the flats and later those new flat owners will approach courts to protect their property and the builder will escape having made profits at cost of public property.
A flat owner said that BMC should now be vigilant and not allow free run to professional builders, they must chase them with equal rigor as they chase poor encroachers.
He added further that the construction of huge buildings in DP reservation plot is nothing less than encroachment and just because the corporation is making illegal allowance without having such powers, the encroachment cannot be allowed.
Another flat owner added that it is time now to find the individual officers in BMC who sanction such conversion of public property to private, free of cost to developers and these officers must be charged under the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act.
Mohit Bhardwaj agreed that this happens in the BMC because most officers feel that the builder will engage senior counsels in courts and they will protect the builder and in turn they will be protected themselves, and in case the builder loses, they will follow the court order, so there is no fear of prosecution as such in these officers.