The Bombay high court on Wednesday rapped the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) for its casual reply while giving the court details of illegal constructions.
“In a matter of this serious nature…it is taken so casually,” lamented a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed last year by Nalasopara resident Terrence Hendriques seeking direction for demolition of all illegal and unauthorised structures.
The VVMC filed a three-page reply and annexed over 370 pages with details of illegal constructions in nine ward areas. “There are five on each page. What are your officers doing?” CJ Datta asked. Senior advocate Atul Damle, for VVMC, replied that action is being taken continuously. He said these areas were earlier under Cidco and the VVMC was formed in 2009. “You point out historical reasons. It’s a new corporation. But why so many illegal constructions?” asked Justice Kulkarni. The judges noted that seven-storey structures are constructed without VVMC’s permission. “You should have ensured in the new corporation that there are no unauthorised constructions,” said the CJ.
The judges also lamented that no efforts were taken to present the details to the court properly. “The commissioner is not bothered. Nobody is bothered,” Justice Kulkarni said. The judges said there was no chartwise break-up of number of regularised and non-regularised structures, the action taken and whether or not there was a plan. “We wanted all these particulars,” said CJ Datta and asked whether it was left to the court to figure it out. Hendriques’s advocate Ajay Jaiswal said despite the time given earlier, the VVMC “has returned with such a reply”.
While Damle said that the data was there, the judges responded that they were aware of how civic officers work. “It (data) can be made deceptive, but not before the court. Going ahead, it would amount to misleading the court. We don’t want to say anything at this stage,” said Justice Kulkarni.
Damle assured that he would personally ensure a proper reply is filed. In their order, the judges recorded their ‘displeasure’ with the VVMC and adjourned the hearing.