The Bombay High Court Wednesday asked the BJP to inform if it was willing to bring down area in excess of 2,682 square feet, provided it’s accepted as the total area allotted to the party by the state government at Nariman Point for construction of its headquarters. The HC also asked the BJP and the state to inform whether any rent was paid by the political party to the government, and if there was a copy of the agreement executed showing allotment of the area to the political party.
According to the record available with the general administration department, the area is 1,200 sq ft in the first allotment letter of May 21, 1989, and 1,482 sq ft in the second allotment letter of October 21, 1995. The total area comprises ground and a mezzanine floor. “There is nothing on record of the department to show whether or when any changes were made,” stated an earlier affidavit of the government. “If the area is double of 2,682 sq ft, are you willing to bring it down,” asked the HC.
A division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice C V Bhadang was hearing a PIL by Nariman Point Churchgate Citizens Welfare Trust challenging the illegal construction made by the BJP and other parties to extend their offices near Nehru Garden.
The court asked if any additional allotment had been carried out by the party. S U Kamdar, senior counsel appearing for the BJP, informed the court that they had only carried out renovation work and the office was located on a total area of 4,000 sq ft. “We have applied to rectify the area allotted by the government,” said Kamdar. The court had earlier restrained the government from taking a decision on the application filed by the BJP.
“Inform us if any agreement has been executed by you (BJP) with the state and if you are paying any rent to the state,” said Justice Oka. The matter has been kept for hearing on Thursday.
Advocate General Shreehari Aney, arguing for the government, said, “According to us, the allotment is lawful, though we do not have plans to prove the sum total of 2,682 sq ft was allotted by us to them. But we are not justifying the unlawfulness.”
Mustafa Doctor, the advocate for the petitioners, said the total area under occupation of the BJP office was 9,000 sq ft, according to a BMC survey. “Illegal structures cannot be tolerated. The buildings must go and the playground must be given back to us,” he said.
The BMC had earlier tried to demolish the illegal structures constructed by the political party on the space allotted for recreational ground but the corporation was not granted police protection to go ahead.