Team Blitz India
MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court granted relief to 96 families living in the Shivaji Nagar Shiv Kiran Cooperative Housing Society in Worli, where redevelopment was halted due to a Defence circular restricting construction near military bases.
A Bench comprising Justice Gautam Patel and Justice Kamal Khata quashed a stop-work notice issued by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) against the society.
The court further directed MHADA to grant all necessary permissions to resume redevelopment work, emphasising that 22 other high-rise buildings exist much closer to the INS Trata site, a defence establishment.
The court, citing parity and the right to equality, concluded that denying permission based on proximity alone wasn’t justified. The Ministry of Defence has issued several circulars over time, restricting constructions near military bases due to security concerns. In 2011, it issued a circular restricting buildings over four stories within a 500-meter radius of defence bases. In December 2022, it modified this circular, reducing the area to 50 meters.
However, in February 2023, the Defence Ministry indefinitely suspended this circular, and in October 2023, the Bombay High Court struck it down for violating property enjoyment rights.
The housing society, near INS Trata, sought to redevelop its dilapidated building after obtaining MHADA’s permission in September 2018. After seeking NOC from the Commanderin-Chief, Indian Navy, and receiving no response for nine months, the Executive Engineer, MHADA, sanctioned the building plans. The society demolished the buildings and moved residents to temporary accommodations pursuant to permission.
However, as a precaution, the society obtained a report from an Institute of Remote Sensing survey in Chennai confirming that the distance from INS Trata to the society was over 500 meters, making the Navy NOC unnecessary. This was also forwarded to the commander of INS-Trata. Despite the finding, MHADA issued a stop-work notice at the Ministry of Defence’s behest in March 2023.
During the hearing, the society argued that it was beyond the restricted area according to the original circular, thus not requiring a Navy NOC.