Mumbai: “Allocation cancellations are not a matter of whim or whim of the housing council,” the Bombay High Court said last week, overturning the 2019 cancellation of an alternative housing allotment permanent to a tenant.
The attribution was made four decades after the demolition of a dilapidated building in which he resided. The Temkar Street building in South Mumbai was demolished in 1978.
The original tenant, Mohammed Usman Shaikh, and his family were moved to a transit camp in 1978. At one point, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) demanded actual possession of the transit camp premises. and Shaikh and his family had to live elsewhere. at their expense. “In total, around 32 years have now passed since the petitioner returned even the transit accommodation,” said bench of Judges GS Patel and Madhav Jamdar. “In short, the petitioner has been without permanent housing for 42 years.”
Shaikh’s lawyer, Anita Castellino, said in November 2019 that he had been allocated another permanent accommodation of 271 square feet in Chinchpokli (East) for Rs 66,000, which he had deposited, only to receive a letter in December informing him that his award had been canceled.
After hearing from attorney Kamlesh Ghumre for Mhada and seeing the letter, the HC said he did not indicate any reason for such a cancellation at all. Another letter followed in October 2020 requesting the original documents and confirming that previously Shaikh was eligible for permanent housing, the HC said.
Shaikh had thus pushed the HC to contest Mhada’s action against him as “arbitrary, unreasonable and irrational”.
“The fact that the petitioner got an award letter after verification displaces any argument that (he) was not an original tenant or was not eligible,” the HC said, adding after granting a permanent housing, “if this is to be canceled, it must be for good reasons, discernible, justifiable and declared”.
The HC also upheld three other unwarranted cancellations in three other petitions filed by tenants and ordered Mhada to give them possession by January 24.
The HC said that it was not disputed that on November 26, 2019, after a full check of all documents, each tenant was allocated another permanent accommodation from different areas in Chinchpokli against different payment amounts. The Mhada had drawn up a master list to decide on the inter se seniority between those who should be accommodated in the reconstructed premises. Eligibility was decided on the basis of various documents. The disputes were not over the area to be provided.
The HC stated in each case: âRespondents’ cancellation of the award on December 10, 2019 cannot stand. It is canceled and put aside. The award letter of November 26, 2019 is reinstated and confirmed. ”