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Fed up over delay in giving land for law varsity: HC to govt

Training its guns on the recently-held event Magnetic Maharashtra business summit, the Bombay High Court said the state government had time to hold such mega events but had still not decided on the allotment of land to set up the Mumbai campus of the Maharashtra National Law University.

A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre said the issue of allotment of land for the university has been pending since a year-and-a-half and that now it was “fed up” with the delay.

“The government has time to hold mega events like the one held last week. Now before the next mega event is held, we want this issue to be resolved,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed last year by an advocate, Pradeep Havnur, claiming that no concrete steps were being taken to hand over the land to set up the MNLU.

“We do not understand why this issue has been pending for one-and-a-half years now. We are fed up. We direct the principal secretary of the state revenue and forest department to appear before us with all concerned files on February 28,” the court ordered.

The government announced the project with much fanfare but then took no steps later, the court said.

The bench was informed by the petitioners’ counsel, Milind Sathe that a government resolution was issued in June 2016 allotting a plot of land, admeasuring 60 acres, in suburban Gorai but a major part of the land was later handed over to the Airports Authority of India.

Sathe said the concerned state department was now trying to identify another plot for the university.

Irked by this, the court said, “We do not understand how such confusion could be created at a senior level. This is, simply, lack of coordination.”

The bench also noted that the government, by allotting part of the Gorai land to the AAI, was also toying with the safety and security of lakhs of persons who use the city airport.

The land, which was allotted to the AAI to shift some offices from the airport in order to decongest the latter, is now embroiled in litigation.

“Have you (government) seen the congestion at the Mumbai airport? It is like a calamity waiting to happen. There is no open space around the airport. There is a parking lot 40 meter away. There are hutments and so many other structures just meters away,” the court said.

“We should salute the pilots for finding the air strip in Mumbai and landing properly. Hats off to them,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

According to the petition, the MNLU is presently operating from a temporary transit-type ground-plus-one structure.

It contended that the National Law Universities Act 2014 was enacted to establish such universities in states for the development and advancement of legal education, to impart specialised and systematic instructions and training and research in law.

The bench said because of the delay on the part of the government, it was losing good law students to private colleges.

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