1. This is an appeal by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay (hereinafter called 'the Municipal Corporation') against the order dated August 9, 1971 passed by a Judge of the Bombay City Civil Court on a notice of motion, issuing an injuction against the appellants restraining them pending the hearing and final disposal of the suit from demolishing certain structures belonging to the respondents. The appellants are the original defendants in the suit. The respondents are the plaintiffs in the said suit.
2. A few facts leading to this litigation may be briefly stated. The plaintiffs claim to be the owners of two pieces of land bearing survey No. 11 Hissa Nos. 1 and 2 and survey No. 23 Hissa No. 10 situated in village Asalphe, Ghatkopar, within Greater Bombay (hereinafter referred to as 'the said land'). It appears that on March 2, 1971 an overseer of the Municipal Corporation found some work in progress on the said land which, according to him, was unauthorised construction. On March 3, 1971 the Assistant Engineer of the Municipal Corporation served on the plaintiffs notice under Section 354A of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, III of 1888 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Municipal Act'), calling upon the plaintiffs to stop the construction. The Municipal Corporation alleges that the plaintiffs failed to comply with this notice. On March 20, 1971 the Municipal Corporation served on the plaintiffs another notice under Section 351 of the Municipal Act calling upon the plaintiffs to show cause why the construction should not be demolished. The plaintiffs sent a reply on March 26, 1971 denying that the construction was unauthorised. Thereafter on May 13, 1971 the Municipal Corporation served three notices on the plaintiffs under Sections 351 and 352A of the Municipal Act calling upon the plaintiffs to show cause why the structures on the said land should not be demolished. The plaintiffs replied to the said letters on May 14, 1971. On May 17, 1971 the plaintiffs filed the suit from which the present appeal arises for a permanent injunction restraining the Municipal Corporation from demolishing the structures on the said land and from enforcing the said three notices issued under Sections 351 and 352A of the Municipal Act. The said suit is pending. The plaintiffs took out a notice of motion for interim injunction pending the hearing and final disposal of the suit. An ad interim injunction was granted. The notice of motion was disposed of on August 9, 1971 and an interim injunction was granted. It is against the said order that the present appeal has been filed.
3. In the order the learned Judge of the City Civil Court has referred to a judgment of my brother Vaidya J. in The Municipal Corporation of Gr. Bombay v. Premji Haridas Patel (1969) A.O. No. 26 of 1067, decided by Vaidya J., on January 21, 1960 (Unrep.) and more particularly to the following passage in the said judgment:.A notice under Section 304 is intended for one situation and the notice under Section 351 is intended for another. It is clear that Section 304 is attracted when the entire structure is built unauthorisedly without taking the permission under Section 304. Section 351, on the contrary, applies when additions and alterations are made to preexisting structures because Section 351 refers to the execution of any work described in Section 342 or commenced contrary to provisions of Section 347. Section 342 provides for notice to be given to the Commissioner of intention to make additions, alterations or repairs to buildings which are already existing. Section 347 provides when work may be commenced.
The learned Judge of the Bombay City Civil Court goes on to state that he is to be guided by the aforesaid decision. He further states that even an obiter dictum of the High Court will be binding on him. Purporting to follow the said decision, the learned Judge granted the injunction by his aforesaid order which is the subject-matter of this appeal.
4. It appears to me that the learned Judge of the City Civil Court has misconstrued the judgment of my learned brother Vaidya J. To bring out this, it becomes necessary to refer to a few provisions of the Municipal Act. I might perhaps mention here that my brother Vaidya J. was concerned in the matter before him with Section 304 of the Municipal Act and not with Section 351. The reference to Section 351 is by way of discussion, for the purpose of construction of Section 304.
5. Chapter XI of the Municipal Act bears the heading 'REGULATION OF STREETS'. The said Chapter also contains sub-headings under which various sections pertaining to the sub-headings are set out. After Section 301 in the said Chapter, the sub-heading is 'Provisions concerning private streets.' Sections 302 and 304 are a part of Chapter XI under the aforesaid sub-heading. Section 302 provides that every person who intends to use any land for building purposes shall give notice to the Commissioner of his intention to use the land for such purposes. Section 304 provides that no person shall use any land for building etc. unless he has given previous written notice of his intention as provided in Section 302. It is clear that Sections 302 and 304 pertain among other things to intended use of land for building purposes and these provisions are also made for the purpose of regulation of streets and for making provisions concerning private streets. These sections are inserted in the Municipal Act to serve a particular purpose as my brother Vaidya J. has pointed out. Section 302(2) provides that nothing in Sections 302 to 304 shall be deemed to affect or to dispense with any of the requirements of Chapter XII.
6. Chapter XII contains provisions for 'BUILDING: REGULATIONS'. The first sub-heading is 'Notice regarding Erection of Buildings'. Section 337 which is the first section in the said Chapter provides that every person who shall intend to erect a building shall give to the Commissioner notice of his said intention in the prescribed form. Then there is another sub-heading reading as 'Notices regarding Execution of 'Works not amounting to the Erection of a Building'. Under the said sub-heading Section 342 provides that every person who shall intend to make any addition or alteration to a building shall give notice to the Commissioner of his intention to do so. We thus find that Section 337 pertains to erection of new building and Section 342 pertains to making alterations or additions to existing buildings. Section 347 provides that no person shall (a) commence to erect any building and (b) execute any such work as is described in Section 342 because erection of a new building falls under Section 337 whereas the work of addition or alteration falls1 under Section 342. Section 351 also pertains to both the situations contemplated by Section 347, namely, (a) erection of a new building--a matter covered by Section 337, and (b) execution of any such work as is described in Section 342, namely, the work of addition or alteration to an existing building. Section 351 provides that if such erection of a new building or addition or alteration to an existing building is carried out without a proper notice to the Municipal Commissioner prescribed by Sections 342 and 347, the Municipal Commissioner may serve a notice on the person who has carried out such work to show cause why such work shall not be removed, altered or pulled down. Section 351(2) provides that if such person shall fail to show sufficient cause, to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, the Commissioner may with the approval of the Standing Committee pull down such work. Section 352A authorises the Commissioner in proper cases to carry out the work without the approval of the Standing Committee.
7. It would appear from the above discussion that Sections 304 and 351 undoubtedly relate to two different situations. Section 304 relates to the use of land for the purpose of lay out of the streets and relates to entire constructions. Section 351 has nothing to do with the intended use of land. It is concerned with the construction. It pertains to both the erection of new buildings as well as to additions or alterations to existing buildings. This is for the purpose of regulating buildings and not for the purpose of lay out of streets. It is, therefore, not correct to say that Section 351 does not pertain to construction of new buildings, or that therefore the notice in this case is illegal or improper.
8. In view of the above discussion, the order under appeal is set aside.
9. Mr. Singhvi appearing for the Municipal Corporation agrees with the plaintiffs that before making an order for demolition under Sections 351(2) and Section 352A the plaintiffs will be given a personal hearing by Mr. Prabhavalkar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner at Ghatkopar on September 24, 1971 at 3 p.m. at the Municipal Office at Ghatkopar. If this date is not convenient to the Deputy Municipal Commissioner, he may fix thereafter another date and time of which he shall give at least one week's notice to the plaintiffs. If after such hearing the Commissioner or the Deputy Municipal Commissioner decide to remove, alter or pull down the construction carried out by the plaintiffs, they shall give to the plaintiff a fortnight's notice in writing of their intention to do so before carrying out such work.
10. In view of the above order and agreement the suit will not survive and the plaintiffs will have the same placed on board of the City Civil Court for withdrawal. The plaintiffs shall pay to the Municipal Corporation the costs of this appeal, notice of motion and the suit. The plaintiffs have given an undertaking to the City Civil Court that they shall not carry out further work of construction pending the hearing and final disposal of the suit. The plaintiffs give undertaking to this Court not to carry out any further construction until the final decision of the Municipal Commissioner or Deputy Municipal Commissioner under Sections 351 and 352A is communicated to the plaintiffs.