The court, during the hearing, noted that the demands from the slum dwellers for free accommodation, valuable assets, and large amounts as transit rent due to encroachments on public and private lands were excessive.
MUMBAI: In a recent development, the Bombay High Court has declined to provide interim relief in a petition filed by slum dwellers seeking a lump sum disbursal of over Rs 15 crore in transit rent arrears or the cancellation of a developer’s appointment in a significant Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) project at Jerbai Wadia Road, Parel. The court, comprising Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata, emphasized that there are limits to the rights claimed by the slum societies.
The petition was presented by Vaibhavi SRA Cooperative Housing Society Ltd against a March 2023 status quo order issued by the apex grievance redressal committee (AGRC). The High Court, while acknowledging the significant inequity in the city, stayed the proceedings before AGRC. Justice Patel remarked, “We do not believe that these (slum) societies have this spectrum of rights.”
The court, during the hearing, noted that the demands from the slum dwellers for free accommodation, valuable assets, and large amounts as transit rent due to encroachments on public and private lands were excessive. Justice Patel emphasized that salaried employees, including government and court workers, do not receive such privileges and often draw from their own sources to meet financial obligations.
Senior counsel Milind Sathe, representing the slum society with 286 members, argued that the project, dating back to 2006, saw the slum site fully cleared in September 2018. He highlighted that no transit rent had been paid from September 2021, and part dues from earlier remained unpaid. The court was informed that the project occupies an almost two-acre plot.
In January, the SRA chief had canceled the builder Landmark Developers’ appointment, a decision stayed by the AGRC on appeal. The slum dwellers moved the High Court, seeking the builder’s removal under Development Control Regulation (DCR) 33(10) and Section 13 (2) of the Maharashtra Slum Act. The court acknowledged the public law element and the question of statutory interpretation involved in such demands.
Representatives for Landmark Developers stated that the project required revised plans under the new DCPR and assured that transit rent arrears would be paid in installments. The High Court directed the builder to submit a reply, admitted the slum society’s petition, and scheduled further proceedings for January 29, 2024.