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Representative ImageMUMBAI: Two developers, Godrej Properties and Shelton Infrastructure, which had won bids for two plots in Sanpada, Navi Mumbai, but whose allotment was later cancelled by Cidco, will finally get to retain them. Bombay high court termed Cidco’s cancellation order last October as “irrational”, “clearly arbitrary”, and “actuated by irrelevant and external considerations, and that they (Cidco) deliberately ignored binding orders of this court”.The two plots were out of 13 in Navi Mumbai in two schemes which Cidco had floated tenders for in Feb 2021 for residential and commercial use. Later Cidco sought via an interim plea to cancel the allotments and issue fresh bids. HC rejected the plea. But last October, Cidco issued an order cancelling the allotments to “avoid loss to the public exchequer” caused by “artificial depression”. The two builders filed petitions to challenged the cancellation before HC.HC found that “curiously” for other bidders, Cidco did not cancel their allotment as they offered to pay ‘delayed payment charges’ which the corporation had demanded. Godrej, represented by senior counsels Milind Sathe and Samit Shukla of DSK Legal, and Shelton represented by advocate Bindi Dave and Wadia Ghandy essentially argued that the cancellation was discriminatory, and against their fundamental right to equality. Agreeing, an HC division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata held it to be discriminatory. Cidco must “be diligent and not try to overreach the court” it said in a Feb 12 judgment uploaded on Tuesday. It said that as a body specifically dealing with public funds, it expects Cidco to “remain firmly within the boundaries of the law”.The bid issue was in legal waters earlier too, where the bidders had emerged successful. Fearing that a controversy over lands in Navi Mumbai between Cidco and Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) — where development permission was being denied by the municipal corporation on grounds that plots were reserved for various proposed public purposes — may affect them, Godrej, Shelton and other successful bidders petitioned HC in 2021 for relief. HC on May 7, 2021 in these petitions directed that the payment schedule in their allotment letters be extended without imposing any interest, penalty or delayed payment charges. Two separate PILs in 2021 also challenged the plot allotments. Godrej and Shelton contested the PILs. On Aug 30, 2022, HC in a detailed judgment dismissed both PILs.Senior counsel G S Hegde for CIDCO argued that termination of contract cannot be decided in a writ petition. The HC said CIDCO’s reply was “curious’’. It said due to reservation on the plots its prices were “artificially depressed’’ and also claimed that during COVID pandemic CIDCO could not sell plots via e-bids.The HC found no merit in CIDCO’s claim of artificial suppression in prices. In the Godrej case, the HC observed the company was among 15 bidders.The CIDCO contended that since the petitioners refused to pay and therefore, the cancellation is justified. The HC held that Godrej and Shelton were justified in refusing to pay the delayed payment. “there was in fact no delay in payment,’’ the HC held frowning on CIDCO stand to “proceed with cancellation unless its demand for delayed payment charges is met.’’The HC refused a plea by CIDCO lawyer to stay its judgment.

Published On Feb 21, 2024 at 04:56 PM IST

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