HC to hear PIL as test case on jurisdiction

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 05 Mei 2013 | 22.23

Mumbai: Bombay high court is slated to hear on Monday a public interest litigation as a test case to determine whether the grievances raised in it is related to the National Green Tribunal or should be heard by it.

A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice F M Reis will hear a petition by Parshuram Uparkar, an ex-MLC, challenging the authority of the Maharashtra Maritime Board to allot wharfs to a private party for setting up a multipurpose jetty near village Aronda in Terakhol creek in Sawantwadi.

Uparkar's petition said the jetty is being constructed by White Orchid Estates Private Limited. The petition alleged that the Board leased out the waterfront in an illegal and arbitrary manner and in violation of government notification permitting private parties to set up ports.

Uparkar's counsel Navroze Seervai and advocate Akash Rebello vociferously argued for ad interim relief saying no environment permission was taken either from the State or the Centre. The port is being set up 2 km from the border of Goa,'' he said. He also argued that White Orchid was unqualified to be awarded the contract.When the tender was invited except Res 8 (White Orchid) nobody responded,'' he said. He said White Orchid applied for modification of the lease stating that a part of the waterfront was reserved for fisheried. In the guise of modification of lease, the policy was violated and no fresh tender issued. They are euphemistically saying it is on existing jetty so no permissions are required. Google map shows there is no wharf,'' said Seervai.

The judges pointed out that the Supreme Court has said all matters related to environment should be sent to the NGT and questioned how they could get over the hurdle and hear this case. Substantial questions have been raised. There is no doubt,'' said Justice Kanade.

White Orchid's advocates Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and Ashutosh Gavnekar argued that that the petitioner has demarcated his case into two parts, namely tender documents, Bombay Land Tenancy Act and Regulations and secondly, regarding Coastal Regulatory Zone permissions and the effects of such kind of coastal development on the environment. Out of total eight issues raised, four do not pertain to the Tribunal. If we examine the issues and prayers, they are clearly separable and independent of each other,'' said Kumbhakoni , adding that issues relating to environment have to be dealt with by the NGT.

Then judges then said they would like to examine this as a test case to ascertain what then high court must do in such a given scenario. Because such cases will come up in future,'' said Justice Kanade.

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