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BMC can evict NGO from school only via due process of law: HC

The Bombay High Court said the city civic body cannot evict an NGO, working towards providing medicines and counselling for cancer patients, from a municipal school without following due process of law.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla was hearing a petition filed by the NGO ‘Cancer Aid and Research Foundation’ challenging notices issued to it in 2015 and then in April 2018, asking it to vacate the five rooms it was occupying in the municipal school in south Mumbai.

The NGO in its petition said it was given the five rooms on a leave and license agreement since 2003.

In December last year, the high court had asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to reconsider the issue following which the NGO filed a representation before the department concerned in the civic body.

However, in April this year the corporation’s education department sent a letter to the NGO asking it to vacate the five rooms within a month. Following this, the NGO approached HC again.

The court said BMC was asked to reconsider the issue so that the corporation could take a liberal view.

“The petitioner is not doing any profiteering business in those five rooms. They are using it to counsel cancer patients and give them medicines and other basic treatment,” Justice Oka said.

“The civic body cannot evict them (the petitioner) by simply issuing a letter. We hold that BMC is not entitled to evict the petitioner in such a manner. If BMC wants to evict the NGO, then it should do it only by following provisions laid down under section 105 (b) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act,” the court said.

Under the said section of the Act, the civic body chief has powers to evict a person or organisation if he is satisfied that the premises has been occupied unauthorisedly, has not paid rent or taxes for more than two months or has damaged the property.

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