Bombay HC Bars Slum Authority Grievance Body From Revisiting Earlier Orders, Quashes Revision Attempt

LI Network

Published on: January 1, 2024 at 21:59 IST

The Bombay High Court recently ruled that the Apex Grievance Redressal Committee (AGRC) of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) cannot revisit its own decision under the pretext of discussing the minutes of the order previously made.

Justice Madhav J Jamdar invalidated an AGRC order that attempted to alter the original directive by instructing the involved parties to register a different agreement.

The Court emphasized the legal principle that, unless authorized by statute or rules, a Review Application cannot be entertained for judicial or quasi-judicial orders. It was asserted that the AGRC, while styling its decision as an elaboration on the earlier order from June 28, 2023, effectively engaged in a review of that order.

The case stemmed from Sitara Anil Sharma contesting an AGRC order initially dated June 28, 2023, which was later amended on September 15, 2023. The June 28 order directed the slum developer to pay transit rent to the petitioner and register an agreement executed on April 20, 2022, for Permanent Alternate Accommodation (PAA) within ten working days.

The developer sought a revision, stating that the April 20, 2022 agreement was not compliant with the Slum Redevelopment Scheme, necessitating a new agreement for Permanent Alternate Accommodation. However, the AGRC pointed out that the April 20, 2022 agreement concerned the Sale Component of the builder and was irrelevant to the SRA.

Subsequently, on September 15, 2023, the AGRC modified the original order, omitting the reference to the April 20, 2022 agreement and directing the builder to execute and register the PAA Agreement within ten working days.

The High Court observed that the AGRC, while ostensibly addressing an application regarding the June 28, 2023 order’s minutes, essentially reviewed the order. This action was deemed contrary to the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance, and Redevelopment) Act, 1971.

The Court stressed that the AGRC’s act of reviewing the earlier order lacked statutory authorization. Accordingly, the Court invalidated the September 15, 2023, AGRC order, stating that a review was impermissible unless specifically permitted by the law.

The Court clarified that the decision to annul the order was solely due to the absence of statutory jurisdiction for a review. It kept all arguments on merit open for appropriate legal proceedings, allowing the concerned parties to pursue their claims and defenses through the proper legal channels.

The petitioner, expressed readiness to comply with the original June 28, 2023 order upon meeting the stipulated conditions. This commitment was accepted by the Court, directing further actions for possession only after compliance with the June 28 order.

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