The Maharashtra government on Friday told the Bombay High Court that the salt commissionerate under the central government neither has title nor possession of the Kanjurmarg land allotted for the Metro car shed, whereas the state owns the same.
Advocate General (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, representing the state government, made submissions before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni, which was responding to the Centre’s writ plea, filed through its deputy salt commissioner, challenging a November 2018 order of the revenue minister declaring that while the state was the owner of various salt pans in Mumbai, some were privately owned.
The state, through the Mumbai suburban collector, had passed an order transferring the Kanjurmarg salt pan land on October 1 and handing over its possession to MMRDA on October 6. While the state government had transferred 102 acres in Kanjurmarg to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for the Metro car shed project, the Centre had opposed it on the ground that all salt pans belonged to it.
On Friday, continuing his rebuttal to Centre’s plea, Kumbhakoni said, “Present petition is misconceived. Not even a scrap of paper, no contemporaneous record as to what activities they conducted on the said land is produced by the petitioner. They (petitioners) haven’t bothered to mention the objections, if any, to the development plan.”
“The petitioner or private party neither has title nor possession and the state government has ownership of the land,” he added.
The bench, earlier during the day, observed that in many documents produced before it, the state government was seen admitting that the Centre is in possession of the property. “Prima facie case is made out that the petition is such that it should not be thrown at this stage,” CJ Datta said.
To which, the state government responded, “The Kanjurmarg land was never acquired by the Centre and it was always with the state government. This property was not part of that litigation and no issue was raised against it which everyone admitted.” In view of this, Kumbhakoni said that no interim relief be granted to the Centre and sought dismissal of the plea.
While posting further hearing, which will include the Centre’s reply to Monday, CJ Datta observed, “It is not about Union’s land or state’s land, at the end of the day it is our (public) land. Hence the public interest component on the land has to be considered.”