MahaRERA office splits over 'personal comfort'

Updated: Feb 04, 2020, 07:31 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Lawyers slam move to split RERA courts between BKC and Churchgate

On any given day, MahaRERA lists at least 75 to 100 matters
On any given day, MahaRERA lists at least 75 to 100 matters

The existing Bandra office of the MahaRERA Authority has been bifurcated to separate locations in BKC and Churchgate, allegedly owing to the "personal comfort and proximity of residences of the adjudicating officers" of the respective new offices.

Members of the Bar Association of MahaRERA and MahaREAT have expressed their displeasure with the move that will "cause inconvenience to litigants and professionals practising RERA cases."

The Churchgate office will be operational from Tuesday. MahaRERA chairman Gautam Chatterjee will now be operating from the fourth floor of Housefin Bhavan, E-block, BKC, while Dr Vijay Satbir Singh and B D Kapdnis, members and adjudicating officers will be operating from 501, Express building, Churchgate.

While lawyers attached to the MahaRERA bar believe that shifting of MahaRERA office from the existing SRA Administrative office in Bandra East to the new BKC office would have still been convenient for the public at large but having one in Churchgate will only result in "a logistics nightmare for both litigants and the public," said advocate Anil Dsouza, secretary of Bar Association.

Bar Association members had even met Chatterjee in this regard but their request did not yield any result.

"The buzz within MahaRERA Bar association members is that the new BKC MahaRERA office could have easily accommodated both Dr Vijay Satbir Singh and B D Kapdnis, given the huge space (over six floors) they have. It is alleged that due to some differences of opinion over office spaces allotted to them at SRA building and the distance from their place of residence, the new Churchgate MahaRERA office was chosen. This is more of personal comfort than public good. Chatterjee was keen that they operated from BKC," said a lawyer requesting anonymity.

Advocate Avinash Pawar, vice president of Bar Association, said, "It is an absurd decision by MahaRERA. It is humanly impossible to attend both offices in a short time. We are also upset with the fact that MahaRERA did not extend us an invitation for the puja at the new BKC office."

'Impossible task' for lawyers

On any given day, MahaRERA lists at least 75 to 100 matters for hearing between the four presiding members from 11 am to 5 pm. With two courtrooms shifting to the Churchgate site, it only means that advocates now will have to shuttle between the two locations.

A construction site in Ghatkopar. FILE PIC
A construction site in Ghatkopar. File pic

"Some advocates have more than 100 open cases easily, excluding group matters, and litigants insist and request that the senior advocate should be present during their case hearing. If the holding clerk or another advocate requests an adjournment, or case is held in the second half, it will only prolong the matter," Dsouza said.

"The number of the cases logged into MahaRERA is close to two lakh now. The numbers will only go up and more courtrooms will be required in the future," he added.

Only a handful of lawyers practise at the MahaRERA's litigation arm since its inception in June 2017, he informed, adding that Section 29 of the RERA Act 2016 entails that the complaints should be disposed of as expeditiously as possible but not later than 60 days from the date of filing. "This seems next to impossible now. How on earth will anyone be present at two locations, as most of us have matters throughout the day at the MahaRERA," Dsouza exclaimed.

"We had made several representations to the authority and requested them to house the litigation arm under one single building. Four courtrooms or more can easily be managed in one building or even nearby buildings at the BKC site. Yet we have this new juggernaut of an issue. We hope Maha RERA can reconsider our request," he said.

"The general administration department and other departments of government have not applied their mind and wasted huge resources of public money on these two offices," advocate Vinod Sampat said.

Some happy with move

A few lawyers, however, are happy with the new office set up at Churchgate, "It is close to the Appellate Tribunal MahaRERA and Bombay High Court, and therefore is a welcome move," said advocate Nilesh Gala.

Attempts made to contact Vasant Prabhu, secretary MahaRERA, did not yield any result.

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