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The Bombay High Court recently cleared way for the functioning of a new Girls Hostel and an Arbitration Centre at the Indian Law Society Law College (ILS Law College) by directing the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to grant these buildings Occupation Certificates (OC) within two weeks.
The PMC had withheld the certificates with a condition that ILS should handover possession of land required for its 30-meter link road which cuts through the law college land. Aggrieved by the same, ILS had approached the Bombay High Court.
In turn, a Division Bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and GS Patel found that the land acquisition dispute was not a justifiable ground for the PMC to withhold the completion/occupation certificates sought for by the ILS college for its hostel and arbitration centre. As noted in the order,
“We do not think that this question needs to be gone into for there appears to be a dispute between the parties. Whether the road has already been laid and up to a point or otherwise is another question which need not detain us. If there is any condition imposed on the petitioner while allowing the development or granting development permission, but that condition has still not been complied with, none prevented the Pune Municipal Corporation from taking recourse to law, including the law enabling forcible acquisition of land. In other words, the applicable land acquisition law. However, the Completion Certificate and the Occupation Certificate cannot be withheld in the facts and circumstances of the case on this ground.“
ILS had submitted before the Court that there is no obligation or condition in the Sanad or Commencement Certificate (CC) to handover any portion of the college land or property ‘free of cost’ for laying of a Development Plan Road (DP Road).
In response, the PMC submitted that it has started the construction of a 30-meter Development Plan (DP) road and for that purpose, the Bhandarkar Institute, situated adjacent to the ILS land, has already given the possession of its 4,784 square metres land. Moreover, the PMC submitted that ILS Law College’s land in question is a Government land granted under a Sanad dated June 4, 1949.
The Court, however, opined that the PMC is entitled to take recourse to the land acquisition law in order to stake its claim in the said property.
“If there is any condition imposed on the petitioner while allowing the development or granting development permission, but that condition has still not been complied with, none prevented the Pune Municipal Corporation from taking recourse to law, including the law enabling forcible acquisition of land.”
This claim, however, could not be cited to withhold the certificates sought for by ILS in the instant case, the Court held. It was pointed out that merely because the PMC issues the Occupation Certificate sought for by ILS, it does not mean that no proceedings can be initiated for acquisition of the land.
Therefore, it disposed of the plea in favour of ILS, directing that,
“The Pune Municipal Corporation shall issue the Occupation Certificate if all other conditions and stipulations are complied with and without prejudice to its right to acquire the portion of the land, which is reserved for laying a DP Road. Merely because the Pune Municipal Corporation issues this Occupation Certificate does not mean that no proceedings can be initiated for acquisition of the land.“
ILS Law College was represented by Senior Counsel YS Jahagirdar and Advocate SS Kanetkar. Advocates Satish B Talekar and Madhavi Ayyapan appeared for respondent Civic Body. Moreover, Advocate BV Samant represented the Maharashtra Government.
[Read Order dated October 16, 2019]
Image taken from here.