The Bombay high court has cleared the path for the construction of a ‘world class’ football stadium in South Mumbai. A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice D G Karnik on Friday dismissed a five-year-old public interest litigation (PIL) filed by former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Jamshed Kanga and other residents and members of the Oval Cooperage Residents’ Association (OCRA)‚ challenging the ground’s renovation‚ proposed by the Western India Football Association (WIFA). “Allowing construction of a football stadium with an attached club house will not infringe upon the right to life‚” the judges observed.
The petition had challenged a July 9‚ 2003 order passed by then chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde‚ who permitted WIFA to construct the stadium on 12‚052 of the 28‚412 square metre ground by consuming a floor space index (FSI) of 0.5. Representing the petitioners‚ counsels Suresh Menon and Gautam Patel argued that the right to public open spaces and access to recreational grounds was an integral part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The judgment said: “We are‚ however‚ not convinced that by allowing construction of a football stadium with a club attached to it would anyway infringe the right to life and right of having an opportunity of development of all or any aspects of human life. Sports are a part of development of mind and body.”
It added: “Promoting sports‚ especially among children and providing them with the facility of a good‚ if not world class stadium‚ for developing the skills of play of football is in consonance with the directive principles laid down in clause (f) of Article 39 of the Constitution of India.” The judges said the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act‚ development control regulations and coastal regulation zone regulations take care to balance the need to protect the environment. “A mere reference to the status of open spaces in London‚ New York and other cities vis-avis the open spaces in Mumbai cannot be a ground to strike down the building permission and development of any open space on the ground that open spaces in Mumbai or any other city in India are far less than the open spaces in London or New York‚” the judgment stated.
The court noted that the 1947 development plan recommended a ratio of four acres open space per 1‚000 persons‚ but “regrettably‚ the target was abandoned in subsequent plans”. Senior counsel Darius Khambata assured the court that WIFA would keep the ground‚ except the Club House open for use by residents in the locality and citizens without hindrance‚ except on (football) match days.
Source: Jun 11‚ 2011 , TOI