Observing that the public parking space coming up along with a 56-storey building in central Mumbai was not illegal, the Bombay High Court on Monday asked the municipal commissioner to reconsider grant of Floor Space Index (FSI) and other issues pertaining to the building.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice N M Jamdar was hearing a PIL filed by city-based NGO Janhit Manch alleging illegalities in sanctions given for the construction of ‘Palais Royale’ building and the adjacent public parking lot in Worli.
The 56-storey residential building, supposed to be the tallest building in Mumbai, is being constructed by Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure Ltd (SRBIL).
The court, however, held that there was no illegality in the permissions granted to the public parking lot.
“The public parking lot cannot be held illegal as contended by the petitioner and the Respondent No 5 (SRBIL) cannot be deprived from claiming incentive FSI accrued therefrom for the residential building,” the bench said.
It, however, held that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will have to reconsider and rework the entire issue of FSI to be granted to SRBIL.
“We cannot sit with a magnifying glass and scrutinise every inch of the planning permission granted. In the circumstances, instead of we adjudicating the issue regarding the exact calculation of FSI and the area, an exercise which entails specialised knowledge of planning requirements, it will be appropriate if the commissioner is directed to reconsider the issue,” the court said.
The bench held that the FSI granted in respect of the refuge area was excessive. “We direct the commissioner to re-examine the said issue and rework the FSI accordingly,” the court said.
“As far as the issue of passages, entrance, swimming pool, area over deck and refuge area at the entrance level is concerned, since the corporation has accepted that the FSI under these heads were erroneously granted, the said aspect will be reconsidered by the commissioner,” the court said.
The court has also directed the commissioner to consider the issue regarding the need to obtain NOC from the High Rise Committee.
The civic chief has been asked to hear SRBIL before taking a decision on the issue. The court has said the Commissioner shall decide all the issues within six weeks.
According to the petition, the builder, SRBIL, has indulged in a blatant breach of rules. “The civic body has done nothing till date. Just because the builder claims that the building is going to be an icon for the city does not mean they can commit fraud,” senior Counsel Navroze Serwai, appearing for the NGO, had argued.
According to Mr. Serwai, apart from several other irregularities, the most blatant one is the builder selling area earmarked for refuge area as part of the flat.
“The builder told the BMC that it has earmarked around three lakh square feet area as refuge area, which can be used by outsiders in cases of emergencies like flood, cyclone and so on. However, RTI documents reveal that around two lakh square feet area has been included in flats as outer deck area and sold,” the senior lawyer argued.
According to the PIL, constructions on the 28,409 square meter property are beyond the commencement certificate (CC).
“The CC which was first issued in February 2005 and extended from time to time till last year allows for construction only up to 43 floors. However, the builder has already constructed 56 floors,” Mr. Serwai argued.
The PIL had urged the court to stay the construction of the building and to appoint Special Investigation Team to probe and take action against the erring corporation officers allegedly granting illegal sanctions for constructions all over the city.
In a reply filed by SRBIL’s director, Shubhakaran Laharuka, it is stated that the PIL is maliciously filed, after a gross delay at the behest of a rival builder.
“The decisions taken by the BMC are ordinary course of business and we have obtained all the valid permissions including CC, high rise approval, environmental clearance, CFO’s NOC, Civil aviation NOC and various other permissions,” the company said in its reply.