The Bombay High Court has directed the city civic chief to take a final decision within eight weeks on grant of permission for the construction of a floating hotel, ‘Floatel’, proposed two nautical miles away from the shoreline in south Mumbai.
A division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and M W Chandwani in its judgement of January 23 quashed a May 2017 decision taken by a three-member committee refusing permission for the project, noting it was part of the Marine Drive promenade.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Rashmi Developments Pvt Ltd challenging the committee’s decision.
The high court in its order said prima facie the floating hotel and its related infrastructure was not part of the Marine Drive.
”The matter is remanded back to the respondent 1 (city civic body) with a direction to the Commissioner of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to take a decision first on whether he has exclusive jurisdiction in the matter,” the HC said.
If the commissioner finds that he has jurisdiction, then he shall consider the petitioner’s application for grant of necessary permission in accordance with law and, if required, the commissioner may call for necessary NOCs from the authorities concerned, it said.
The court said if the commissioner has no exclusive jurisdiction then he shall refer the petitioner’s application to the three-member committee once again for due consideration and appropriate recommendation.
The committee – comprising the chairman of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee, Mumbai Police commissioner and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner – was formed in 2015 following an order from the HC to decide on any proposed construction at the Marine Drive promenade.
In 2018, the high court had upheld the committee’s decision following which the petitioner company approached the Supreme Court. The apex court last year set aside the high court’s 2018 order and directed it to consider the matter afresh.
The petitioner company had proposed the project of Floatel (floating hotel) comprising four parts – waiting area, floating jetty, parking area and the hotel.
The floating hotel was going to be located in the deep sea about two nautical miles from the shoreline in south Mumbai.
The petitioner’s contention was that none of these four parts of the project would be situated anywhere near or on the Marine Drive promenade and that they would be situated beyond a point from the end of the Marine Drive.
The court in its order noted that prima facie none of the parts appear to be forming part of the Marine Drive promenade.
It said the parking area of the proposed project comprising about 5,000 square metres belongs to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the said land has been already allotted to the petitioner company.
The BMC commissioner would have to first see if he has exclusive jurisdiction to decide the petitioner’s application for grant of No Objection Certificate (NOC) or not, the HC said.
“If he decides that he has such jurisdiction in the matter, he would have to go ahead to consider the application of the petitioner on its own merits. However, if the commissioner comes to the conclusion that he has no exclusive jurisdiction in the matter, he would have to act upon the recommendation of the three-member committee,” the court said.
In that case, the commissioner would have to once again refer the matter to the committee for its consideration and appropriate recommendations, it said.
“Recording of findings on the question of jurisdiction is important for the reason that it goes to the root of the whole dispute,” the HC said.
The bench directed the civic body chief to take a final decision within a period of eight weeks.