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Findings of fact cannot be interfered with by court in a SLP under Article 136 of the Constitution,

Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Corporation Of Greater Mumbai And Ors. ..vs. Panna Mahesh Chandra Dave And Anr., Special Leave Petition (C) No.18065 Of 2018- JANUARY  31 ,2020.

The bench comprised of Justice N.V.Ramana , Vineet Saran, V. Ramasubramanian.

Respondents filed writ petitions on the file of the High Court Judicature at Bombay challenging the demolition of the superstructures put up on the plot of land. Granting the relief of allotment of alternative site to the petitioners in eleven writ petitions (tenants) and granting the relief of consideration of a request for grant of TDR (Transferable Development Rights)/DRC (Development Right Certificate) to the petitioners in one writ petition (owners of the land), the Municipal Corporation of Bombay has come up with the present special leave petitions.

The High Court merely granted limited reliefs and despite the fact that even according to the Corporation, four out of eleven tenants were eligible for alternative accommodation, which was in fact offered to them, the Municipal Corporation came up with twelve special leave petitions against the common order passed in twelve writ petitions.

The High Court held that the it was not even the case of the Municipal Corporation that they followed due process of law before demolishing the structures and that the action of the Municipal Corporation in demolishing the superstructures and taking forceful possession was high handed. The court noted that the High Court was convinced to order restitution but it balanced the private interests of the respondents herein and the public interest.

The only substantial questions of law sought to be raised by the petitioners were (i) whether the High Court could have overlooked the readiness and willingness on the part of the Municipal Corporation to grant the benefit of TDR to the original owner of the plot of land; and (ii) whether the High Court was right in overlooking the prescription of a Regular Line way back in the year 1974 for the widening of the road.

The important findings of the Legal Services Committee were, that [1]the assessment certificate issued by the Corporation shows the existence of superstructures from a period prior to 1961 [2] that some of the respondents in the special leave petitions were issued with notices under Section 3Z(2).[3] that the other respondents are also eligible for permanent alternative accommodation, as their superstructures were duly assessed in the year 1961 and indisputably, those structures were demolished in 2017.

In case of the 11 tenants, the Corporation agreed before the High Court and also Supreme Court that four of them are entitled to alternative accommodation. Therefore left with seven tenants, Corporation conceded in the report submitted to the Legal Services Committee that out of seven, three tenants are eligible. The dispute was boiled down to four tenants. These findings of fact cannot be interfered with by this Court in a special leave petition under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, unless the findings shock our conscience.

The High Court has recorded a finding of fact that the Municipal Corporation demolished the superstructures and took possession in a high handed manner. The Legal Services Committee has recorded a finding that the superstructures were in existence from a period prior to 1961.  The Court held that these findings of fact cannot be interfered with by this Court in a special leave petition under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, unless the findings shock the Court’s conscience.

The Court noted that the findings of the High Court were not perverse and held there were no grounds to interfere with the judgment of the High Court.

The special leave petitions were dismissed.

– Saral M

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