The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted liberty to twenty Mumbai residents who are members of a group called 'Save Our Coast' to move Supreme Court as they questioned the continuation of construction work for the coastal road in violation of the lockdown rules.
Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Priya Mahanataney and 19 others. Court was informed by the intervenor and project contractor Larsen & Toubro that the Supreme Court had already seized the issue as a challenge to the continuation of work has already been filed before SC after the apex court in December last year stayed Bombay High Court's order quashing CRZ clearance for the said coastal road.
A battery of seniors appeared in the matter, Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi and SU Kamdar on behalf of the intervenors Larsen and Toubro, Senior Advocates DJ Khambata and AY Sakhare for MCGM, Advocate General AA Kumbhakoni for the State and ASG Anil Singh for the Union of India.
Whereas, Senior Counsel Janak Dwarkadas appeared on behalf of the petitioners. Court asked him whether petitioners would be willing to raise all the issues urged in this PIL before the Supreme Court, which is seized of the matter, or would like to put in security as a condition precedent in terms of Rule 7A of the Bombay High Court Public Interest Litigation Rules, 2010 for a hearing of their claims on merits.
After taking instructions, Dwarkadas submitted that petitioners may be granted liberty to move Supreme Court with all the issues raised in the present PIL.
Thus, Court noted-
"In view thereof, this PIL Petition is not entertained. It stands dismissed. This order shall, however, not preclude the petitioners to seek remedy before the appropriate court in accordance with law. Needless to observe, no opinion has been expressed on the merits of the petitioners' claims."
Previously, High Court had allowed petitions filed by various citizen groups including project affected fishermen and set aside the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance granted to southern part of the coastal road project by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), Expert Assessment Committee (EAC) under the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) as well the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
An appeal was filed before the Supreme Court against the said order and by an order dated December 17, 2019, the impugned judgment was stayed and the petitioners before the Supreme Court were granted liberty to "reclaim the land, build the road thereon and secure the road".