The Bombay High Court on Thursday quashed a government notification which raised the Floor Space Index (FSI) in Mumbai's suburbs and extended suburbs from 1 to 1.33.
FSI is the ratio of the total floor area of a constructed structure to the size of the plot on which construction has taken place.
A division bench comprising Justice A.A. Sayed and F.I. Rebello stated that the “entire” notification calling for the additional FSI of 0.33, dated October 3, 2008, was “ultra vires the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning [MRTP] Act” and “consequently, the notification on that point has to be struck down.”
The court rested its decision on the matter of charging a premium, observing that the granting of extra FSI went hand in hand with the charging of a premium.
“The exercise of grant of additional FSI is only on payment of premium,” the bench said.
According to the MRTP Act, funds earned from the levy of such a premium have to be used for the “development of land.” However, as per the 2008-2009 budget speech, “the object of granting additional FSI” was to use the funds for “minority development or general development,” which was “alien to the purpose of the Act.”
Thus, the government decision did not ally with the purpose of the Act, under which the notification was proposed.
The court's order came in response to a public interest litigation filed by Ami Maru and Arun Gaikwad in 2008. Their petition raised the concern that the government had not carried out any environment impact and study of the effect on infrastructure, and that its move would increase the burden on the city's infrastructure.
The government, on the other hand, had said that the additional FSI would benefit the citizens by bringing down the prices of houses in the city's suburbs and extended suburbs.