The Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to personally look into the “high-handed and arbitrary” manner in which Mumbai City Collector Ashwini Joshi was conducting herself.
A division bench of justices V M Kanade and P R Bora was hearing a petition filed by S C Cambata Trust challenging a show cause notice issued to them by the collector.
The notice was issued for alleged violation of certain conditions of a 1939 agreement between the trust and the state government for leasing a land for 99 years in south Mumbai, which houses the famous Eros theatre building.
The collector, in the notice dated February 14, claimed the trust had violated two conditions of the lease agreement – erecting mobile towers on the terrace of the building and creating third-party tenancy rights. The notice directed the trust to appear before the collector who will then hear them and pass order accordingly.
The trust, while challenging the notice, approached the high court claiming that the collector does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter as the government is the owner of the land. It also said that due procedure of law was not followed in the matter.
Senior counsel Milind Sathe, appearing for the trust, also pointed out that by looking at the tenor of the notice it appears that the collector has pre-decided the matter and would pass an arbitrary order.
The high court bench, while agreeing to the argument of the trust, said, “The action of the collector is without jurisdiction. The manner in which the collector is proceeding in this matter leaves no doubt in our minds that she (collector) is bent upon passing an order without giving proper hearing to the petitioner.”
“We express extreme displeasure in the manner in which the collector of Mumbai is conducting herself in such matters. We direct the chief minister of Maharashtra to look into the matter personally and find out the state of affairs in the collectors office,” Justice Kanade said.
“The collector seems to have started acting in an arbitrary and a high-handed manner. We want to find out if she is behaving like this on her own accord or at the behest of the government or the Cabinet,” the court said.