Bombay HC Allows Residents to Move SC for Continuation of Work at the Coastal Area During Lockdown

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The Bombay High Court grants liberty to 20 Mumbai residents to move to the Supreme Court. These residents are members of a group ‘Save Our Coast’. They interrogated the continuation of construction work for the coastal road. The reason is that the work violates lockdown rules.

Introduction

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice S.S. Shinde heard the PIL. The PIL was filed by Priya Mahanataney and 19 other members. Here, Larsen & Toubro is the intervenor and project contractor. It informed the Court that the Supreme Court seized the issue as a challenge to the continuation of work.

Counsels in the Present Matter

A number of counsels appeared in the matter. For Larsen & Toubro, Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi and SU Kamdar appeared. For MCGM, Senior Advocates DJ Khambata and AY Sakhare appeared. Further, Advocate General AA Kumbhakoni appeared for the State. Moreover, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appeared for the Union of India. Whereas, Senior Counsel Janak Dwarkadas appears on behalf of the petitioners.

Petitioner’s Arguments

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The Court asked Senior Advocate Dwarkadas about whether petitioners would be willing to raise all the issues. These issues have been mentioned in the PIL before the Supreme Court. Also, the Supreme Court already seized the matter. Otherwise, they would like to put in security as a condition precedent in terms. Further, the terms include Rule 7A of the Bombay High Court PIL Rules, 2010 for the hearing of their claims on merits. After taking instructions, Dwarkadas submitted that petitioners may be granted liberty. This liberty allowed them to move to the Supreme Court with all the issues raised in the present PIL.

Court’s decision

Thus, the Court did not entertain the PIL. As a result, it stands dismissed. However, this order does not prevent the petitioners to seek a remedy before the court. Needless to say, the Court did not opine on the merits of the claims.

Previously, the High Court allowed the petitions filed by various citizen groups. It included project-affected fishermen. Moreover, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance to the road project is set aside. Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority and EAC under the Ministry of Environment and Forest grant it.

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Subsequently, the group filed an appeal before the Supreme Court against the said order. As a result, the order dated December 17, 2019, against the impugned judgment stayed. Finally, the petitioners get the liberty to “reclaim the land, build the road thereon and secure the road“.


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