The Bombay high court held that tenants cannot impose terms or force their preferences for redevelopment on the landlord if they are guaranteed rehabilitation tenements when it dismissed petitions filed by seven tenants of a block on Hill Road in Bandra West seeking additional space beyond what the landlord had offered.
According to a division bench of justices GS Kulkarni and Kamal Khata, who were hearing the petitions on Thursday, "Once the landlord has guaranteed that the tenants would not be deprived of permanent alternate accommodation in lieu of their original premises, the tenants or occupants—whether minority or majority—would not have any legal rights to dictate and/or foist on the landlord the nature of the development to be undertaken by the landlord. The tenants/occupants cannot assert any higher rights in relation to redevelopment unless expressly provided by the law," the bench said. The bench stated, "If such a right of the tenants/occupants is recognised, it is likely to bring a situation that the corporeal rights of the owners of the property would stand fully defeated." The tenants cannot dictate their ideas and any aspect of the redevelopment unless the law recognises such rights, the bench added.
The ground-plus-two-story building was demolished for reconstruction in 2020 because the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) deemed it unsafe and dangerous. Each renter received a guarantee from the building's landlord, Swarna Highrise Constructions, that they would have a permanent replacement place to live and 22 out of the 29 residents had agreed to choose the offer of the 324 square foot tenements over their 250 square foot homes. However, the minority group of seven members had petitioned the HC, arguing that under the Development Control Promotion Regulations 31(3) and 33(7)A, they were entitled to 35% of the fungible Floor Space Index (FSI) being used by the landlord.
They argued that the BMC had an obligation to guarantee that the tenants received the benefit of the fungible FSI because this provision was incorporated in the DCPR for the city. As a result of height limits in the proposed building, the landlord, on the other hand, had stated that he was unable to supply the fungible FSI, and the bulk of the tenants had already agreed to take the space that they were offering. The petitions were rejected by the court after the landlord's argument was accepted.