At, In the High Court of Bombay at Goa
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE M.S. SONAK & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE R.N. LADDHA
For the Petitioners: Shivan Desai, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1 to R5, Devidas J. Pangam, Advocate General with Shubham S. Priolkar, Additional Government Advocate, R6, P.A. Kamat, R7, Abhijeet Sawant, Advocates.
Oral Judgment: (M.S. Sonak, J.)
1. Heard Mr. Shivan Desai, learned Counsel for the Petitioners, Mr. Devidas J. Pangam, learned Advocate General with Mr. Shubham S Priolkar, learned Additional Government Advocate for the Respondents No.1 to 5, Mr. P. A. Kamat, learned Counsel for the Respondent No.6 and Mr. Abhijeet Sawant, learned Counsel for the Respondent No.7.
2. Rule. At the request of and with the consent of learned Counsel for the parties, the Rule is made returnable forthwith.
3. The challenge in this petition is to the following: a) Impugned directions dated 29.11.2021 issued by the Executive Engineer, Goa Ground Water Officer. b) Show Cause Notice-cum-Stop Work Order dated 29.10.2021 issued by the Deputy Town Planner read with corrigendum dated 25.11.2021. c) Stop Work Order dated 23.09.2021 issued by the Village Panchayat, Nerul.
4. Mr. Desai submits that the notice/directions dated 29.11.2021 issued by the Goa Ground Water Officer require the petitioner to demolish the portion of the border wall. He submits that such a direction visits the petitioner with civil consequences and therefore there ought to have been compliance of principles of natural justice and fair play before the same was issued. He submits that no show-cause notice or opportunity was granted to the petitioner before the issuance of notice/directions dated 29.11.2021 by the Goa Ground Water Officer.
5. Learned Advocate General states that the notice dated 29.11.2021 may now be treated as show-cause notice to the petitioners. The petitioners' reply dated 09.12.2021 will be treated as a response to the said notice. He further states that the petitioner can be granted some further time to file a fresh reply or additional reply if the petitioner so desires. Thereafter, the Goa Ground Water Officer will afford an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner and dispose of the show-cause notice.
6. Mr. Desai, learned Counsel submits that the aforesaid course of action suggested by the learned Advocate General is acceptable. He states that the petitioner will file an additional reply within one week from today.
7. Mr. Abhijeet Kamat, learned Counsel who appears for respondent No.7 also submits that the aforesaid course of action suggested by the learned Advocate General is acceptable but he submits that even respondent No.7 may be granted an opportunity of filing a response within one week from today and even the respondent No.7 may be heard by the Goa Ground Water Officer.
8. Accordingly, both, the petitioner as well as respondent No.7 are granted one week to file a response by treating the notice dated 29.11.2021 as a show-cause notice. Thereafter, the Goa Ground Water Officer to fix a date and afford hearing to both, the petitioner as well as the respondent No.7 and dispose of such show cause notice expeditiously. Both the parties will have to cooperate with the Goa Ground Water Officer so that the proceedings are not delayed. However, the Goa Ground Water Officer should not be influenced by certain observations in his notice dated 29.11.2021 and those observations will now have to be regarded as prima facie observations or tentative observations.
9. Needless to add that based on the notice dated 29.11.2021 itself, which is now to be treated as only a show-cause notice, the Goa Ground Water Officer shall not proceed with the proposed demolition which is the subject matter of the notice dated 29.11.2021. The further course of action will depend upon the final orders the Goa Ground Water Officer will make after giving an opportunity of hearing to both, the petitioner as well as respondent No.7.
10. The challenge to show cause notice-cum-stop work order dated 29.10.2021 and corrigendum dated 25.11.2021 need not be entertained at this stage because, the same will, to a certain extent, depend on the decision of the Goa Ground Water Officer. There may be other issues also involved before the Planning Authorities that will have to be gone into, independent of the decision of the Ground Water Officer. Therefore, the petition insofar as this challenge to show cause notice-cum-stop work order dated 29.10.2021 read with corrigendum dated 25.11.2021 is not presently entertained. However, it is clarified that all contentions of all parties are left open, and should, ultimately, any adverse order be made against the petitioner, the petitioner will have the right to challenge the same in accord with the law.
11. Similarly, the Village Panchayat has only issued a show-cause notice-cum-stop work order. Mr. Desai learned Counsel points out that the Panchayat has proceeded to revoke the license. He states that the petitioner has an alternate remedy available under the Panchayat Raj Act to question such revocation
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and the petitioner proposes to invoke such remedy. Accordingly, we will not entertain the petition insofar as the said show cause notice-stop work order is concerned because the relief in that regard has by now been rendered infructuous. The petitioner will undoubtedly have the right to invoke the alternate remedy available under the Panchayat Raj Act. All contentions of all parties in this regard are expressly left open. 12. The Rule in this petition is disposed of in the aforesaid terms. There shall be no order for costs.