The Bombay High Court has directed the charity commissioner to invite fresh tenders for a prime building redevelopment scheme in Girgaum. The project to redevelop the trust-owned building had been awarded without a tendering process by residents who insisted on a Maharashtrian builder,apprehending that other builders would cheat them.
Justice G S Godbole set aside an order of the charity commissioner passed on September 2,2011 sanctioning the sale of the 3,343.57-sq m Kudaldeshkar Brahman Niwas property in Girgaum by the Late Rao Bahadur Anant Shivaji Desai Topiwalla Charity (LBRASDTC) to M/s Raunak Corporation for Rs 6 crore. The project involves 4,000 sq ft built-up area for the trust and tenements of not more than 460 sq ft each for 122 residents of the buildings.
The buildings,constructed before 1925,are categorised as A cessed buildings under the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Act,1976.
Arguing for Siddhivinayak Construction Pvt Ltd,who had also approached the trust for redevelopment,senior counsel V A Thorat told the court that the fixation with a Maharashtrian developer was the reason the trust had not issued advertisements for the redevelopment scheme.
This,he said,was was not only vague but also obnoxious,that every person staying in Maharashtra is Maharashtrian and,therefore,the reason given for not issuing advertisement is a complete eyewash.
The trustees in their affidavit stated that the tenants had expressed their apprehension that non-Maharashtrian developers may cheat them and therefore requested the trustees to have Maharashtrian developers who will keep their promises and shall not breach permissions which shall be granted for development of the property by adding additional construction,etc.
The court observed that the contentions of the trustees made an interesting read but added that the reason for not inviting tenders for redevelopment of the prized south Mumbai property does not appear to be genuine.
No material was placed on record before the charity commissioner to prove the basis of the contention that the tenants wanted only a Marathi developer to be given the work of development, the court observed.
It stated that a number of construction firms in Mumbai have proprietors of Maharashtrian origin but the LBRASDTC had cited no reasons for approaching only four.