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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The interim relief granted by this court during the pendency of this appeal to continue till an appropriate order is passed by the High Court either in the main proceedings or on prayer for grant of interim relief, after hearing the parties. We request the High Court to take up the writ petition expeditiously, considering the subject matter of the impugned notices issued by the corporation for demolition of the building being in dilapidated condition.

                                                         NON-REPORTABLE



                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3798 OF 2017
                  (Arising out of SLP (c) No.1999 of 2017)



Rufina D’ souza & Ors.                       …….Appellants

                                   Versus


Municipal Corporation of Greater             ..…..Respondents
Mumbai and Ors.






Judgment



A.M.KHANWILKAR, J.



1.    This appeal arises from the judgment  and  order  dated  13th  January
2017 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Judicature at  Bombay
in Writ Petition (L) No. 2644 of 2016. By the said  order,  the  High  Court
summarily dismissed the writ petition preferred by the appellants.



2.    There is a chequered history of  proceedings  between  the  appellants
and the private respondents. For the nature of  order  that  we  propose  to
pass, it may not be necessary to advert to all those facts and proceedings.



3.    The aforementioned writ petition was filed for the following reliefs:

“a)   That this Hon’ble Court be pleased to issue a writ of Certiorari of  a
writ in the nature of Certiorari or any other writ or  order  under  Article
226 of the Constitution of India quashing the Impugned  Notices  dated  18th
November 2014 bearing No.ACN/1014/2/B&F/Gen issued  by  the  2nd  Respondent
declaring J.D. House under C-1 Category;

That this Hon’ble Court be pleased to issue a writ of Certiorari or  a  writ
in the nature of Certiorari or any other writ or order under Article 226  of
the Constitution of India quashing the Impugned  Notice  dated  9th  August,
2016  bearing  No.ACN/347/Gen/B&F  issued  by   the   2nd   Respondent   for
disconnecting the electricity and water connection of  J.D.  House  situated
at C.T.S. No.244 to  247  of  Village  Ghatkopar-Kirol,  Near  Jamma  Mazid,
Chirag Nagar Road, Off L.B.S. Road, Ghatkopar (W), Mumbai 400086;



That this Hon’ble Court be pleased to restrain the  Respondents,  either  by
themselves or through their agents or servants,  by  a  permanent  order  of
injunction from taking  any  steps  pursuant  to  or  in  execution  of  the
Impugned Notice dated 9th August 2016 bearing ACN/347/Gen/B&F issued by  the
2nd Respondent in respect of J.D. House situated at C.T.S. No.244 to 247  of
Village Ghatkopar-Kirol, Near Jamma Mazid, Chirag  Nagar  Road,  Off  L.B.S.
Road, Ghatkopar (W), Mumbai 400086;



That pending the hearing and final disposal of the  present  Writ  Petition,
this Hon’ble Court be pleased to direct the 2nd Respondent  to  restore  the
water connection  and  electricity  for  all  the  premises  of  J.D.  House
situated at C.T.S. No.244 to 247 of Village Ghatkopar –  Kirol,  Near  Jamma
Mazid, Chirag Nagar Road, Off L.B.S. Road, Ghatkopar (W), Mumbai 400086;



That pending the hearing and  final  disposal  of  the  present  Suit,  this
Hon’ble Court by pleased to stay the effect and operation  of  the  Impugned
Notice dated 9th August, 2016 bearing No.ACN/347/Gen/B&F issued by  the  2nd
Respondent;



That pending the hearing and  final  disposal  of  the  present  Suit,  this
Hon’ble Court be pleased to refrain the Respondents,  either  by  themselves
or through their agents or servants, by  a  temporary  order  of  injunction
from taking any further steps pursuant to or in execution  of  the  Impugned
Notice dated 9th August, 2016 bearing No. CAN/347/Gen/B&F issued by the  2nd
Respondent;



For ad-interim and interim reliefs in terms of prayer  clause  (d)  (e)  and
(f) above;



For costs;



For such further and other reliefs as the nature and  circumstances  of  the
present case may require.”





4.    On  a  plain  reading  of  these  reliefs,  it  is  evident  that  the
appellants  were  essentially  challenging  the  action  initiated  by   the
Corporation under Section 354  of  the  Mumbai  Municipal  Corporation  Act,
1888; and the notice for disconnecting the electricity and water  connection
in respect of the building in which the appellants were occupying  tenements
therein. The Division Bench of the High Court, however, summarily  dismissed
the petition in the following terms:

“It is informed that in connection with the subject  property,  Civil  Suits
for specific performance challenging  the  action  of  the  Corporation  for
demolition of the  building  are  being  contested.  During  the  course  of
hearing, we have noticed that  parties  are  not  at  present  agreeing  for
agreement to be entered into  by  them.  Certain  issues  are  raised  which
required some inquiry to be conducted.  The  disputed  questions  cannot  be
gone into in the present proceedings. The parties may get the  same  settled
in the Civil proceedings which are pending, in the alternate forums.

2.    In this view of the matter, no interference is warranted. Keeping  all
issues  on  merits  open,  Writ  Petition  is  disposed  of.  Status-quo  be
continued for a period of one week from today.

3.    The other issues concerning water and  electric  supply  can  also  be
raised in the pending civil proceedings.”



5.    On a fair reading of the impugned order passed by the High  Court,  it
is obvious that the High Court has not even touched  upon  the  core  issues
raised by the appellants concerning the challenge to  the  impugned  notices
dated 18th November 2014 and 9th August 2016. The High Court  may  be  right
in observing  that  disputed  questions  need  not  be  gone  into  in  writ
proceedings,  but  that  does  not  preclude  the  writ   petitioners   from
challenging the show cause notices issued  by  the  statutory  authority  on
permissible grounds. It is open to the Court to consider  the  challenge  on
the touchstone  and  parameters  delineated  for  judicial  review  of  such
action. The fact that a suit for specific performance  was  pending  between
the private parties and they were unable to strike  any  settlement,  cannot
be a tangible reason to decline to examine  the  grounds  of  challenge  put
forth by the writ petitioners in relation to the impugned notices.



6.    Suffice it to observe that the High Court ought to have  examined  the
grounds of challenge and the reliefs claimed by the appellants in  the  writ
petition concerning the action initiated by the  statutory  authority.  That
challenge will have to be examined, uninfluenced  by  the  pendency  of  the
suit for specific performance between the private parties.

7.    Accordingly, we allow this appeal and set aside the impugned  decision
of the High Court with a further order to remand the  writ  petition  to  be
heard and decided by the Division  Bench  of  the  High  Court  afresh.  All
questions are left open. We make it clear that we  have  not  expressed  any
opinion on any of the grounds and contentions available  to  the  respective
parties.



8.    The appeal is allowed and the impugned judgment and  order  passed  by
the Division Bench of the  High  Court  is  set  aside.  Instead,  the  writ
petition is remanded and restored to the file  of  the  High  Court  to  its
original number, to be heard by the Division Bench de novo.



9.    The interim relief granted by this court during the pendency  of  this
appeal to continue till an appropriate order is passed  by  the  High  Court
either in the main proceedings or on prayer for  grant  of  interim  relief,
after hearing the parties. We request the High Court to  take  up  the  writ
petition expeditiously, considering  the  subject  matter  of  the  impugned
notices issued by the corporation for demolition of the  building  being  in
dilapidated condition.

10.   The parties to appear before the appropriate bench of the  High  Court
on 23rd March 2017.





11.   The appeal is disposed of in the above  terms  with  no  order  as  to
costs.



                                                            ………………………………….J.
                                (Dipak Misra)



                                                            ………………………………….J.
                                (A.M. Khanwilkar)


                                                          .………………………………...J.
                             (Mohan M. Shantanagoudar)

New Delhi,
Dated: March 9   , 2017

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