The Bombay High Court
The Bombay High Court

The week that was: The Bombay High Court

Nitish Kashyap

The week started with a far-reaching order by the Bombay High Court – an effective ban on any new commercial construction in the city. The same day also had hearings in connection with the murder of rationalists, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar. The next few days also saw a number of important matters reaching the court including farmer suicides, illegal encroachments, and a PIL on court infrastructure.

Here is a roundup of all that happened in the Bombay High Court this past week.

Monday (February 29, 2016)

No new constructions until MSW rules are complied with

Justices A.S. Oka and C.V. Bhadang placed an embargo on the  approval of any new residential or commercial construction in the city. The High Court took this step after the state government and BMC failed to comply with earlier orders on the compliance of the Municipal Solid Waste rules.

Observed Justice Oka,

“Two thirds of the solid waste is being dumped illegally while more Floor Space Index (FSI) is being given to commercial and residential projects.”

According to a Business Standard report, the real estate sector is anticipating severe loss as a result of this order.

We did not order formation of SIT!

In the matter of the alleged fake encounter of gangster Sandeep Gadoli, a division bench of Justices Ranjit More and V.L. Achliya JJ came down heavily on the state prosecution team for giving the apex court the impression that an SIT was ordered to be formed by the HC.

The apex court had ruled against the HC order for an FIR against Haryana Police and also stayed the formation of an SIT. In compliance with the apex court order, Haryana Police has been added as a respondent and all parties have been served notices. The matter has been adjourned to March 16.

Speed up your investigation in Govind Pansare 

The State CID probing the Govind Pansare murder case has been asked to speed up its investigation. This matter is being heard along with the PIL regarding the murder of Narendra Dabholkar, which is being investigated by the CBI.

Abhay Nevgi, counsel for both the petitioners, had demanded the transfer of these two cases to National Investigation Agency which the court has declined saying that the CBI is already in touch with the NIA.

Tuesday (1 March, 2016)

Ministers will tour drought hit districts

The State government informed Justices Naresh Patil and AA Sayed that a state minister would take a 3-day tour of all drought hit districts starting from March 4. The ministers would inspect the implementation of  welfare schemes for farmers.

The bench was hearing a suo-motu PIL regarding rise in farmer suicides in the state.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh has been directed to inform the court about all the existing central government schemes for farmers and also the ones proposed in this year’s budget. The matter will now be heard on March 17.

Partial modification of DG Vanzara’s bail conditions

Justice Abhay M Thipsay allowed the partial modification of the bail conditions imposed on Dahyaji Gonarji Vanzara, the former Deputy Inspector General for Gujarat. One of the accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter, Vanzara was granted bail in September 2014 subject to certain conditions. Two of these conditions were challenged before the Bombay High Court – staying in Mumbai and reporting to the Mumbai trial court three days a week, and a prohibition on entering the state of Gujarat.

Justice Thipsay set aside these conditions, directing Vanzara to appear before the CBI office in Gandhinagar on a daily basis.

Wednesday (2 March, 2016)

This city needs its open spaces

Justices A.S. Oka and C.V. Bhadang JJ have asked the BMC to demolish the illegal construction at BJP’s headquarters near Mantralaya if the ruling party fails to do so within six months.

A PIL contending encroachment by political parties and state agencies on a recreation ground was filed by Nariman Point Churchgate Citizen’s Welfare Trust. Senior Counsel, S.U. Kamadar appearing for the BJP had informed the court that the actual space occupied was over 4,000 sq. ft whereas the originally sanctioned area was only 1200 sq. ft.

Thursday (3 March, 2016)

Funds for POCSO courts released

The State government informed Justices A.S. Oka and C.V. Bhadang that the pending amount of twenty lakhs for court infrastructure has been released. This money will be used to construct special courts for hearing POCSO cases.

In earlier hearings, amicus Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had informed the court about the pathetic conditions in lower courts that hear cases of child sexual abuse. Special court rooms will be built for hearing these cases all over the state. The bench has been hearing suo motu PIL’s on the lack of basic infrastructure in courts all over Maharashtra.

Friday (4 March, 2016)

Shiv Sena installs toll free number for reporting illegal hoardings

After various orders passed by the High Court to strengthen the law against illegal hoardings, political parties  have started taking the issue seriously. In fact, the Shiv Sena informed the court that it has decided to install a toll free number for addressing complaints regarding illegal hoardings. Court has welcomed the move and asked other parties to follow the example.

Additionally, the Mumbai Police Commissioner was directed to appoint an officer who can co-ordinate with BMC officials regarding security to be provided to them.

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