The Bombay High Court on Monday took stern view of more than 160 illegal constructions which have cropped up in various coastal villages of Alibaug, and directed the Divisional Commissioner, Konkan Division to ascertain the action that has been initiated against such constructions.
The Bench comprising Justice AS Oka and Justice Riyaz I Chagla thereafter directed the Divisional Commissioner to submit a report to the Principal Secretary of State Revenue and Forest Department within a period of eight weeks.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by Sambhuraje Yuvakranti of Akhil Bhartiya Maratha Seva Sangh, bringing to the court’s notice the failure of the authorities under the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966 to take action against illegal constructions of bungalows/ farm houses in coastal villages of Varsoli, Sasavne, Navedhar, Navgaon, Kolgaon, and Avas in Alibaug.
The petition had also relied on a report submitted by the SubDivisional Officer (SDO), Alibaug on such illegal constructions. The report had recorded that even though people like Nirav Modi, Manoj Tirodkar, Karuna Rajan and Rushi Agarwal had carried out constructions in the area, they had not produced adequate permissions for the same.
Specifying the fact of such constructions, the petition had therefore demanded that such constructions be declared illegal and in violation of CRZ Regulations. It has also sought a bar against any such constructions in the future.
Taking note of the information placed before it, the Court referred to Mr. Nirav Modi’s case by way of illustration, to express the “shock” felt by it over perusal of the affidavits. For instance, the Court took note of an earlier order passed by it in February, 2010, when it had directed the SDO to examine Mr. Modi’s case within twelve weeks.
It however lamented the fact that instead of passing such order, the SDO disposed of the petition in June this year, merely recording that the matter is being referred to Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). Rapping the SDO for its conduct, the Court observed,
“Not only that the SDO has acted contrary to the order dated 4th February 2010, but he has acted in gross breach of the said order and that is how the end result is that a large illegal structure constructed on a beach to the extent of 695 sq.meters has been protected. We are pointing out this only by way of illustration.”
It further noted that the SDO has similarly disposed of several other cases, while clarifying that it was only referring to Mr. Modi’s case as an illustration.
“We are only referring to a specific case by way of illustration. The issue is not only of violation of CRZ Regulations but also of illegal constructions made in the coastal areas or on beaches. There is a complete non-application of mind by all the authorities. The case of Shri Nirav Modi, to say the least, is shocking,” it added.
The Court then issued the following directions:
- We direct the State Government to forward a copy of this petition, copies of the affidavits filed in this petition and the copies of orders passed from time to time in this petition to the Divisional Commissioner, Konkan Division. As observed earlier, the Divisional Commissioner will call for records and will ascertain in what manner action has been initiated in respect of more than 160 illegal constructions in various coastal villages of Taluka Alibaug, District Raigad on the ground of violation of CRZ Regulations and/or constructions being carried out without there being any permission from the competent authority or in violation of the permissions granted;
- He shall submit a report to the Principal Secretary of the Revenue and Forest Department of the State Government within a period of eight weeks from the date this order is uploaded on the server on the basis of which the State Government will issue necessary directions;
- We direct the seventh respondent to file an affidavit setting out the decisions taken by it on several references made to the said authority as is set out in the affidavit of the District Collector dated 11th June 2018. The affidavit shall deal with other aspects on merits as well. Such affidavit shall be filed within a period of six weeks from today;
- We make it clear that notwithstanding the pendency of this Public Interest Litigation and this order, the concerned authorities are free to take action in accordance with law against all illegal constructions including the constructions which are pointed out in various affidavits filed on record;
- The writ petition shall be listed on 21st November 2018 under the caption of direction for reporting compliance.