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No interim order on NTC plea: Supreme Court

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to pass any interim order against a Bombay High Court judgment scrapping the Rs 20,000 crore project to develop land belonging to 58 sick textile mills in Mumbai.

A Bench consisting of Justices S.B. Sinha and P.K. Balasubramanyan, while issuing notice on petitions filed by Bombay Dyeing and Manufacturing Company Limited, the National Textile Corporation (NTC) and other mills affected by the October 17 order, directed that the matter be listed for December 13.

The notice was issued to the Maharashtra Government, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the Bombay Environmental Action group, on whose petition the court passed the impugned order.

It held that the sale of the five NTC mills — Apollo, Mumbai, Elphinstone Mill number 3, Jupiter and Kohinoor — did not comply with the conditions laid down by the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR). As for the other mills, the High Court, while interpreting the amended Development Control Rules 58 framed by the Maharashtra Government, held that the sale of their land would come under the ambit of the earlier rules, which stipulated that one-third of saleable mill land be earmarked for open space, one-third for the government to set up low-cost housing and the rest for the mill owners.

The appellants, in their special leave petitions (SLPs), said the High Court had erred in the interpretation of the rules and also ignored the ground reality of existing third party rights created by the developers on the mill land.

The NTC contended that the High Court was wrong in concluding that the sale of the five mills was contrary to the BIFR scheme as well as the May 2005 orders of the Supreme Court. The apex court had permitted the NTC to sell the land belonging to these five mills and ordered that in case the High Court ruled against it, it would be required to make up for the open space from the land available in its other mills.