Bombay High Court paves way for Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project

Bombay High Court Building. , Photo credit: Vivek Bendre

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is of “national importance and in public interest”, the Bombay High Court said on Thursday, and a petition filed by Godrej & Boyce Company challenging the acquisition proceedings initiated by the Maharashtra government and NHSRCL at Mumbai’s Vikhroli The petition was dismissed. area for the project.

A division bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and MM Sathaye said the project was unique in its kind and collective interest would prevail over private interest.

Of the total 508.17 km rail track between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, there are plans to make about 21 km underground. One of the entry points of the underground tunnel falls on Vikhroli (owned by Godrej) land.

The state government and the National High-Speed ​​Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) had claimed that the company was delaying the entire project of public importance.

Officials told the high court that the acquisition process for the entire line for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project has been completed, except for the land owned by Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited in Vikhroli area.

The company and the government have been embroiled in a legal dispute since 2019 over the acquisition of company-owned land in Mumbai’s Vikhroli area for the bullet train project.

The state government had earlier informed the court that it has already deposited the compensation amount of Rs 264 crore given to the company in October last year.

Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited had filed a petition challenging an order dated September 15, 2022, passed by the Maharashtra government for land acquisition for the bullet train project.

It had termed the land acquisition proceedings initiated by the state government as “illegal” and claimed that there were “many more patent illegalities”.

However, the high court bench said it did not find any illegality in the compensation or the proceedings initiated by the authorities.

The court said, “The project is of national importance and in public interest. We do not find any illegality in the compensation. It is the overriding collective interest which shall prevail and not private interest.”

The company has not made out any case for the court to exercise its powers and hence no interference is required.

Senior advocate Navroz Seervai, appearing for the company, urged the high court to stay its order for a period of two weeks so that they could approach the Supreme Court in appeal.

However, the bench refused to stay its order.

The company had earlier sought a direction from the High Court to the state government not to proceed with the passed award and initiate possession proceedings.

It said that the award made by the government was “illegal ex-post facto and therefore a nullity”.

It also refuted the allegations leveled by the government and NHSRCL that the company was unnecessarily delaying the project.