Observing that people cannot be deprived of open spaces and garden areas, the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to ensure that a park in south Mumbai is allowed to be used by everyone and not just by an adjacent private society.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M S Sonak was hearing a petition filed by a social worker, alleging that a housing society at the Cuffe Parade had illegally usurped a plot sanctioned for a public garden and an open space for the exclusive use of its residents.
The petitioner had also alleged that the residents of the society were not allowing the general public to have an access to the park. The bench perused the original sanction plan and also a report submitted by the court receiver after carrying out inspection of the area and said, “The society originally did not have direct access to the park. It seems like the society has created an entrance directly to the open space and are using it as car park. The society has also appointed private guards.”
The society is using the open space like it is their private property, Chief Justice Chellur said. “As per the original sanction plan, the open area was to be a park for general public to walk and also a play area for children. Public has been kept in the dark and did not even know that the open space was meant for them. The society has deprived the public from using the park,” she said.
The court also rapped the civic body for failing to take note of the issue. “It seems like the corporation found ways to help the society. Your MCGM officials are in connivance with the society. This is the sad part. It is not as if the civic body officials turned a blind eye to it. They are fully aware of what is happening, but still not doing anything,” the court said.
“We direct the corporation to put up a boundary wall in between the society buildings and the park to ensure that they do not have direct access. The civic body shall put up a notice board outside the park clearly stating that it is open for public during visiting hours,” the court ordered.