Bombay HC Raps Maharashtra Govt, BMC, Glider Buildcon, Stays Demolition of Mafatlal Industries' Spindle Unit at Byculla
Moneylife Digital Team 03 April 2024
Coming down heavily on the Maharashtra government, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Glider Buildcon Realtors Pvt Ltd for putting profit over the livelihood of erstwhile mill workers, the Bombay High Court (HC) quashed as 'illegal' the 2019 decision of the state government to do away with a two-decade-old town planning condition. The HC also stayed the demolition of a recently constructed structure for 10,000 spindle units at the now defunct Mafatlal Mill at Byculla, near Veer Jijamata Zoo.
 
In a strongly worded order, the HC bench of justice Gautam Patel and justice Kamal Khata says, "What we have been told is that the corporate and commercial need of Glider (Buildcon Realtors), an entirely private real estate developer, must be allowed to override and prevail over (we dare say even 'Trump') the concerns of the labour unions and the provision of employment to erstwhile mill workers or members of their families. We are being told that not only is Condition (iv) of the 2004 amendment 'unnecessary', but that the provisions of Development Control Regulations (DCR) 58(7), 58(9) and 58(10) are nothing but so much clutter and a burden on the more important real estate profit aspirations of Glider (Buildcon Realtors)."  
 
"Our answer to this is that perhaps in Mumbai, more than in any other city in India, these social and economic disparities are already far too stark and far too much in conflict. These contradictions between extremes of poverty and wealth are literally smashed together here, cheek-by-jowl. We see daily how appalling these disparities are. We are being asked to add to these. We are being asked to do away with employment to erstwhile mill workers and their families. We are asked to hold that their livelihoods, earnings and the principled approach of DCR 58 must be sacrificed at the altar of Mammon," the bench says.
 
"We will not permit this," the HC says, "The Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) 's order was not only for the revival of Mafatlal. Part of the revival of Mafatlal involved a close consideration to the requirements of DCR 58 and the interests of its erstwhile workmen. Now, we are being told that this is all unnecessary. We are being told that it need not been (be) done. Instead, we are led to believe high value real estate must be preferred over these considerations. That can hardly be an impelling, let alone a compelling, circumstance for a writ court functioning under Article 226 of the Constitution of India."
 
Describing the cases before it, the bench says, "This is the story of a defunct cotton textile mill and its lands; of a city zoo expansion that never was; of a radical change in city planning; of spindles unlike any in children's fairy tales; of the relentless pursuit of profits by a developer; and the fates and livelihoods of the textile mill's erstwhile workmen and their families. Or, to badly paraphrase Lewis Carroll, the time has come (as the walrus might have said), to speak of many things: of mills and zoos and city plans, of workers and developer kings."
 
The bench of justice Patel and justice Khata also quashed and set aside a 7 September 2019 communication issued by the Maharashtra government. "...ordering and declaring that the letter dated 7 September 2019 issued by respondent no1 (Maharashtra government) is illegal, invalid, non-est and ultra vires the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) (Act) and/or unconstitutional and that the same does not have the effect of modifying the 2004 notification."
 
In the 7 September 2019 letter, the Maharashtra government had asked Mafatlal Industries to dispense with a condition incorporated in 2007 to DCR 58. This allowed Mafatlal Industries to sell 50% of the land and hand over the remaining to Veer Jijamata Zoo free of cost. The only condition was that the developer would build a spindle unit and give it to the company to provide employment to the families of erstwhile mill workers. 
 
Glider Buildcon Realtors, the developer, constructed and handed over the spindle unit to Mafatlal Industries. However, the developer approached the state government seeking closure of the spindle unit. The Maharashtra government's September 2019 letter also stated that since mill workers were paid, the condition to build a spindle unit was not required to be implemented. This was objected to by Mafatlal Industries.
 
The HC says, "At least presently, and after our order for all time to come, its sympathies will lie with the labour unions so far as this spindle unit is concerned, for we will not hear Mafatlal hereafter to say that the spindle unit is not necessary or should be allowed to be taken up for redevelopment. That is not its case before us. That has not been its case at any time before any authority, even the government of Maharashtra and it will not be allowed to turn back from this position."
 
"We return finally to one submission that was taken more than once, namely that Development Control Regulations are not meant for labour welfare. That may be true. They are not. But the fact that they do provide for labour welfare does not invalidate them. We have yet to see a single challenge mounted successfully on this aspect of the matter, viz., that the provisions of DCR 58 that clearly provide for labour welfare are somehow ultra vires or unlawful. If that is not so, then it is impossible for any private enterprise to argue that those provisions should be given short shrift," the bench added.
Comments
parimalshah1
2 months ago
This clearly shows how the builders lobby, and the government; are hand in gloves to usurp whatever land can be grabbed by hook or crook. Shame on the government and the politicians. Such stupid arguments to generate profits by the builder and in turn get funds for self or the party.
mohansiroya
2 months ago
Bravo!
Free Helpline
Legal Credit
Feedback