HC expects Thackeray govt to act against illegal encroachments

Mumbai: The newly-stitched political alliance, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), has a tough task ahead. It not only has to live up to the expectations of the people of Maharashtra but also of the Bombay High Court, which has high hopes from the newly-formed government under Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The HC recently said it was hopeful that the new dispensation would be ensuring that no public land is encroached upon by anyone.

A bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla said that the new government must understand the “pain and anguish” of the HC, which is flooded with petitions seeking directions to authorities to protect public properties from encroachments.

The bench was dealing with a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging large-scale illegalities and irregularities and unauthorised construction activity on lands, which are vesting in the state. It alleged that the original lessees have created sub-leases and in the garb of a

blanket regularisation, irregularities have been

perpetuated.

The plea highlighted such illegalities, especially at Kanjurmarg and Kurla areas, wherein a private developer had encroached on the government land that was reserved for playgrounds.

While hearing the matter, the judges noted that hundreds of such cases are filed on a daily basis, which shows the inaction of the authorities.

“When such PILs are filed and repeatedly in this court, the ever-increasing numbers depict and demonstrate and rather proves that the state machinery is not functional,” Justice Dharmadhikari remarked.

The bench said that because of such inaction, all the governmental and executive functions are now expected to be taken over by the courts.

“When this court does take over as an exception, the complaint is that there is undue interference by the judiciary. The authorities must realise that it is their inaction only which compels the members of the public to approach this court by way of a PIL,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

“Neither we are equipped nor we have the experience to discharge and perform the functions and duties of these statutory authorities. We are aware of the fact that we can only impress upon the government machinery to take action and ensure that the lands, which are

public properties and which it holds as a trustee for the public, are not encroached upon or taken over by anyone,” the judges said.

In its order passed last week, the bench noted that the troika comprising of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, was yet to form the government.

“We are informed that now, there will be a new dispensation in power shortly. We expect this political dispensation to note our pain and anguish and not allow this court to be flooded with any more PILs of this nature,” Justice Dharmadhikari observed.

The bench accordingly posted the matter for further hearing in January 2020.