Finding that there is nothing objectionable and irregular if malls utilize open spaces for organizing limited festival for the leisure, amusement and/or enjoyment of visitors of the mall, the Bombay High Court has held that the Municipal Corporation in absence of any specific restriction under Regulation 27 of Development Control and Promotion Regulations for Greater Mumbai, 2034 (DCPR 2034) cannot restrict installation of such nature when such restriction is neither explicit nor by implication derived from the plain language of such regulation.

Observing that activities are intended for the benefit of public at large, and more particularly in a city like Mumbai where a large segment of the population would be interested to take benefit of such events, being organized in public places like malls where open areas are available, the Division Bench of Justice G.S. Kulkarni and Justice R.N Laddha held that "activity where the visitors of the mall would enjoy the benefit of a variety of edibles at a common open space, is a permissible recreational activity within the meaning of Regulation 27 of DCPR 2034".

Advocate Mayur Khandeparkar appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Pooja Yadav appeared for the Respondent.

In a nutshell, the Petitioner had preferred the petition challenging the communication issued by the second Respondent – Assistant Engineer (Building and Factory) - II ‘N’ Ward, whereby the Petitioner’s application for NOC for temporary “ice-cream fest” to be held by the Petitioners at the Courtyard/ open space, of Petitioners ‘R City Mall’ was rejected, primarily on the ground that such activity to be undertaken by the Petitioners was a commercial activity not permissible at the recreational/open space of the said mall.

After perusing Regulation 27 and more particularly sub-clause (1)(g)(ii) of Development Control and Promotion Regulations for Greater Mumbai, 2034, the High Court found that there is no restriction/embargo for the recreation area in the Petitioner’s mall to be used for the purpose for which the Petitioner has made the application in question, to the MCGM.

"It is admitted that the activity to be undertaken by the Petitioners is for a limited period of about three days, by installation of temporary stalls", added the Court.

The Bench highlighted that the Regulation clearly permits “recreational activities”, as no restriction as to any temporary commercial activity has been provided in Regulation 27(g)(ii), hence, the same cannot be read in Regulation 27 as sought to be interpreted by the Municipal Corporation.

"This more particularly when there is no definition of “recreational activities”, under the DCPR 2034. In the absence of such definition, ordinary and natural meaning is required to be given to the words “recreational activities”, added the Bench.

Accordingly, the High Court directed the Municipal Corporation to grant appropriate NOC/permission to the Petitioners.

Cause Title: R Mall Developers and Anr. v. Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and Ors.

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