Refusing to stay the demolition of three floors of a six-storey building located near the runway of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, the Bombay High Court Tuesday observed that there is no doubt a violation of height restrictions near the airport not only endangers lives of fliers, but also of the building occupants. Pointing out that the top three floors were obstructions, the High Court said the developers had committed fraud while misrepresenting the precise location of the structure.
A division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade was hearing a plea filed by a developer of a residential building near the airport, seeking stay on an order passed by the HC directing the civic body to demolish the top three floors of the building. The building, constructed as a redevelopment project, is currently occupied by tenants and owners.
It also overshoots the permissible height limit — the DGCA allowed construction up to 13.9 metres, but the building is 24.7 metres tall.
“There is no doubt that the developer made misrepresentation for obtaining No Objection Certificate for the building and committed fraud not only on authorities but also on the flat purchasers. They told the authorities they had built the structure on the transitional surface while it was constructed on the approach surface. It is not open for developer to raise objections claiming they are entitled for additional area,” said Justice Kanade. The developer had claimed that the architect had made the misrepresentation. “The ultimate responsibility is not on the architect. The developer has to ensure that all rules and regulations are followed. In the interest of anyone, no stay can be granted,” said the court.
Appearing for the developer, senior counsel Rizwan Merchant argued that the building cannot be measured by a new method introduced in 2015, as it will have a retrospective effect. He sought for re-verification regarding the permitted height of the building and sought to make representation before the appellate authority to save the fourth floor of the building.
Senior counsel S U Kamdar, appearing for the Mumbai International Authority Limited (MIAL), said it was not open for the developer to make such demands. The court was also informed that a pole above a temple on Gilbert Hill posed as an obstruction.
“Railway poles have also been marked as an obstruction,” said Merchant. MIAL said that the objection was in regard to one electric pole in this case. Meanwhile, in the public interest litigation against height violations by buildings around the airport, the High Court was earlier informed that 112 buildings were constructed in the funnel area of the airport.
Appearing for MIAL, senior counsel Praveen Samdani said they had sent a list of such obstructions to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and after they were screened, MIAL had been asked to serve notices against 25 structures. “We have issued five notices in the last two days,” said Samdani. There are a total of 137 such obstacles. The court has now asked the Airports Authority of India to initiate action against officials responsible foe issuing permissions in such cases. The matter will be heard after four weeks to monitor action taken by the concerned authorities.