If SRA transit rent is unpaid, act within 30 days, says Bombay HC, ET RealEstate

August 31, 2023

MUMBAI: Bombay HC on Wednesday directed that newly appointed Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) nodal officers take prompt action within 30 days in case of complaints of non-payment of transit rent to eligible persons/slum-dwellers pending redevelopment.

Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor also directed SRA to give details on action taken for unpaid transit rent. “SRA shall also indicate how many complaints were received by nodal officers and how many have been disposed of,” they added.

The court was hearing two PILs of 2019 by Vijendra Rai, a lawyer, highlighting non-payment of transit rent to eligible persons/slum-dwellers. Rai mainly referred to 17 projects of Omkar Realtors and Developers Pvt Ltd.

On July 19, HC directed SRA to set up a nodal officer and call for representations/complaints from slum-dwellers. On August 7, SRA told HCnodal officers are appointed in Mumbai. Advocate Inamul Khan, for a slum-dweller, said it takes a year for SRA to decide on complaints.

Advocate Rebecca Gonsalves, amicus curiae, submitted a note extracted from SRA and the developer, that at 7 places work was ordered stopped for sale component. Rai said despite that construction is on. The judges then directed appointment of two advocates as court commissioners to visit construction sites to verify if work on sale component buildings has “stopped or not”.

The judges’ attention was brought to an August 1 circular issued by CEO of SRA for taking steps so that incidents of non-payment of rent are checked. It stated the developer shall deposit advance rent of two years and post-dated cheques for remaining period.

While senior advocate Anil Sakhare, for SRA, said it would apply to future and revised schemes, the judges pointed out that the circular has referred to the two PILs and the court’s July 19 order. The judges said the circular will apply to ongoing schemes. They directed Sakhare “by the next date to take instruction in this regard and file an affidavit”.

Gonsalves said according to SRA and the developer, only Rs 74 crore rent is due. The judges also questioned what action SRA took if the amount was pending.

Sakhare said if there is default, a notice is issued. “If the developer fails, stop-work notice is issued for the sale component. In spite of this, if it is not done, further action is taken by issuing notice [asking] why you should not be terminated,” he said.

Omkar’s advocate informed that rent is being paid.

The Chief Justice said: “We are making it very clear, you are primarily responsible to pay rent. It is a statutory scheme. You are bound by it. If you are found deficient, rest assured, if they (SRA) don’t take action, we’ll take action.”

The matter will be heard next on September 26.

  • Published On Aug 31, 2023 at 08:51 AM IST

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