Bombay HC Directs Police To Register Case Against MHADA Officials
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court has alleged that the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) officials had failed to take possession of about 1.37 lakh sq mt of land from developers, after the redevelopment of cessed buildings. With the estimated revenue loss to the state exchequer pegged at Rs 40,000 crores, the Bombay High Court has now directed the police to register a case against the concerned MHADA officials.
According to the Development Control Regulation 33 (7), in a redevelopment project, any surplus area is the state government’s property. The petition in the HC claimed that despite knowing these provisions, the concerned MHADA officials failed to recover the land. The HC bench comprising of justices SC Dharmadhikari and SK Shinde, directed the Economic Offences Wing to register a First Information Report (FIR) within five days. It also took into account a letter by an Anti-Corruption Bureau official, dated April 2018, to the state government, expressing suspicions regarding the matter.
"Despite a senior-ranking official of the ACB noting that prima facie cognisable offence was made out, both the city police's EOW and the ACB declined to entertain the petitioner's complaint. It is nothing but shirking of responsibility and acting in defiance of the law," the bench noted.
MHADA under RERA
The Maharashtra government had written to the Centre asking it to amend the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016 and bring under the ambit of the law the state-run Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, as per reports. With this move, the state aims to keep a check on delays and ensure timely delivery of projects by these development authorities across the state.
According to 2011 Census, there are over 51 lakh slum dwellers, 11 lakh tenements in slum pockets and 104 Mhada buildings to be redeveloped in Mumbai.
This move would help make these authorities more accountable towards their beneficiaries, ensuring they are delivered their units in time, state’s housing minister Prakash Mehta was reported as saying in the DNA report.
According to Mehta, under the SRA scheme, the developers have access to the free-sale component, allowing them to sell certain units in the open market. This has been one of the common causes of delays in delivery of apartments to the actual beneficiaries as the developers are more focussed on developing the open-market units. However, coming under the purview of the Real Estate Law, developers will have to adhere to the set deadlines.
The Central law, according to Mehta, so far, does not have a provision to regulate such authorities as these are exclusive only to Maharashtra, a state that has implemented the law in both the letter and the spirit. So, for such a provision to be added to the Central law, an amendment will have to be passed in the Parliament, Mehta adds.