Give Sra Powers To Evict Illegal Occupants, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate

October 11, 2023

MUMBAI: The Bombay HC on Monday said it is now time to vest the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and the state government with summary powers—even if “draconian”—to evict unauthorised occupants of SRA flats, as it raised concerns over illegal transfers and “trafficking in rehab tenements”.

The ownership of SRA rehabilitation flats, allotted free of cost to project-affected persons, cannot be transferred within 10 years of allotment, except to heirs.

Observing that there appeared to be “wholesale racketeering” in Mumbai, a bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata said rehabilitation flats’ “trafficking” causes a “colossal loss” to the SRA, the state and all law-abiding citizens. “We see no reason why the SRA and the state should not have a provision, draconian though it may be… to ensure that those premises are resumed by SRA or the state in vacant possession condition and used for project-affected persons… In a city that is chronically starved of adequate affordable housing, it seems to us utterly unbalanced to permit individuals to profiteer at public expense like this,” said the bench, requesting advocate general Birendra Saraf for assistance.

The court said it would not frame a policy or direct drafting one on evicting illegal occupants, but would “go the necessary distance to identify the areas that need to be addressed by the state” to uphold the 10-year restriction on transfers, and pass orders for removal of unauthorised occupants. “SRA does not seem to have any mechanism in place at all for controlling these transfers. If it does, it is not working, because otherwise, we would not have these cases,” the bench said.

The HC was hearing a plea by 90-odd allottees of an SRA project in Malad (E), represented by counsel Akash Rebello and advocate Altaf Khan, seeking rental dues from a Rs 1.5-crore deposit made by a builder in the court following orders while disposing of a plea in December 2021.

“The issue that now presents itself is of much wider impact,” said the HC. It noted that there are four persons who are original allottees but are not occupying the tenements for varying reasons. It said in two cases, the original allottees returned to their villages and their children sub-let the flats illegally.

The HC had earlier called for an inspection by SRA to identify illegal occupants of the Malad building. Anoop Patil, SRA’s lawyer, said a new report has been submitted. The HC gave Anuj Narula, counsel for the builder, time to file an affidavit in reply. Narula had earlier said there were at least 20 other cases of tenants who had transferred the ownership of their flats and 84 others who rented theirs out before the end of the 10-year period.

  • Published On Oct 11, 2023 at 08:48 AM IST

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