<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Observing that the “public was kept in the dark and the civic body officials were working hand in glove to deprive locals of public space meant for them,” the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to take over a garden plot, which was allegedly being used by a housing society in Cuffe Parade as private property.A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak asked the civic body to post their security guards and maintain the garden plot adjoining the 32-storey DSK Durgamata luxurious apartments at Cuffe Parade.The court has also asked the BMC to reduce the internal road, which was developed by the society to reach the lobby of the building, from 12 feet to six feet and convert it into a pathway for walkers while along with the city surveyor and police, it has to ensure that the park is open to public all the times and a wall is constructed between the society and the garden.The direction was given during the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by activist Sanjay Kokate who had alleged that the reserved plot of land has been taken over by the society which is using it as its private garden while locals are being denied entry.The court commissioner, in its report, had submitted that the society and developer posted private security guards, thereby denying entry to the general public. To this, the bench said, “The layout of the plot as seen in the report show gross violations.”On a claim made by the society that garden access be kept open for the society to aid easy access of emergency vehicles like fire tenders, the court said, “Don’t get the fire brigade into this issue. If you do so, then we will have to verify whether the building is fire compliant.”At the last hearing, the court had rapped the society for encroaching on public land. “The plot reserved for the garden has to be used for that purpose, it cannot be used by the residents of the building to park their cars or take access to their homes. Everyone likes to have a beautiful garden in front of their house but they should be entitled to it and people cannot encroach upon public spaces.”The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on November 24.About the caseA PIL was filed by activist Sanjay Kokate who had alleged that the reserved plot of land in Cuffe Parade has been taken over by the society which has been using it as its private garden The court commissioner, in its report, had submitted that the society and developer posted private security guards, thereby denying entry to the general public.
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