New report in hand, govt set to push for early hearing in Bombay HC

Armed with the latest expert panel report that favours construction of a common car shed for multiple Metro corridors at Kanjurmarg in Mumbai, the Uddhav Thackeray government is now gearing up for the legal battle.

In the wake of recommendations made by the nine-man expert committee, the government has decided to push for an early resolution of the ongoing dispute in the Bombay High Court. On the basis of the findings, it is set to file a fresh affidavit, urging the HC to prepone hearings in the matter.

On December 16, 2020, the HC had, in an interim ruling, stayed the construction work of the car shed at Kanjurmarg while admitting pleas by the Centre’s salt department and two private parties against the collector’s order regarding the land allotment to the MMRDA for building the facility.

While passing the interim order, the HC had scheduled next hearings in the matter in February.

On Thursday evening, sources said that Thackeray held detailed deliberations with his Principal Advisor Ajoy Mehta, Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar and senior officials for finalisation of the legal strategy.

Sources said that the CMO is worried that a prolonged court matter will pose major roadblocks in the progress of three underconstruction Metro corridors (lines 3, 4 and 6). As per the deliberations, the government has decided to focus on the new panel’s findings that Kanjurmarg was a more suitable option for a car shed as its main weapon in the court case as well.

On the ownership row, the government’s prime contention will be that a November 1, 2018 order of then state revenue minister Chandrakant Patil (current state BJP chief) – in quasi-judicial capacity – dismissing the salt department’s claim on the land, was in force.

As far as the private parties are concerned, sources said that the state’s legal viewpoint is that the claim raised by one of them dealt with another piece of land, whereas the rights enjoyed by the second one was limited to manufacture of salt on a portion of land, and that once such manufacturing of salt ceased, the rights were no longer valid.