The Bombay High Court has observed that in cases of formulation of development plans, the process of consultation does not mean concurrence.

In that regard, the Bench of Justice GS Patel and Justice Kamal Khata observed that, "The whole purpose of objections, hearings and suggestions is not to chip and chop a DP to the liking or disliking of individual plot holders but to involve citizenry in the planning process. This is a process of consultation. Unlike certain other quarters, in this case ‘consultation’ does not mean concurrence. But that is the unfortunate effect of the submissions of the Petitioners before us. Indeed, it is a sobering thought that if this submission is accepted no DP will ever get finalized or sanctioned, at least not within the 20- year time frame after which it is required to be revised all over again."

Counsel Chetan Patil appeared for the petitioner, while AGP MP Thakur and Counsel Manasi Pawar appeared for the respondent.

In this case, the petitioner had contested the State Government's refusal to accept a proposed modification to a Development Plan (DP) for a piece of land. The respondents included the State Government, the Municipal Corporation, Chhatrapati Shahu Institute of Business Education And Research Trust, and the Joint Director of Town Planning. On September 7, 2000, the Municipal Corporation declared its intention to prepare a DP. The DP preparation involved a multi-stage process with notifications, suggestion periods, hearings, and objection considerations. The petitioner contested the State's decision to revert the land to its original purpose instead of accepting the proposed modification.

The Court noted that, "In the context of a large urban area, civil engineering and civic planning require that the planning authority and the sanctioning authority take into account myriad factors. Public participation is the sine-qua-non of the planning process. After all planning is — at least supposedly — for the citizens and residents of a municipal corporation area or city, and therefore there are these provisions for hearing suggestions and objections from the public."

With that background, the Court further clarified that, "Individual concerns must, in the context of civil engineering and civic planning for a large command area, yield to what is perceived to be the greater public need. That perception and that decision is of the sanctioning authority. At every stage, there is a process of transparency ensured by inviting suggestions and objections, consultation with the planning authority and so forth. But this does not mean that the sanctioning authority is robbed of its discretion and must only accept every suggestion or objection. It also does not mean that every suggestion and objection must be met with a detailed reasoned order for its acceptance or rejection."

In light of the same, it was held that a submission of that nature must be rejected.

Finding no merit in the submissions of the petitioner, the petition was rejected.

Cause Title: Ramchandra Tukaram Mohite & Ors. vs The State of Maharashtra & Ors.

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