MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Friday quashed a decision of the Appellate Committee of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) imposing height restrictions on buildings that are within 2 km from both the Airport Surveillance Radars (ASRs) that service the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
A division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and B P Colabawalla in its order noted that the Committee did not have the jurisdiction to impose such conditions and the powers to do so lay with the Central government.
"The Aircrafts Act confers powers upon the Central government to issue directions to regulate or prohibit the construction of buildings within a prescribed radius of the aerodrome reference point," the court said.
The court in its order noted that the decision of the Committee was entirely without authority of law and in excess of its jurisdiction and power.
"The power to make rules is only with the Central government. Further, the power to issue directions to regulate and prohibit the height of buildings within a defined radius of the aerodrome is also with the Central Government," the order said.
The court was hearing three petitions filed by Kalpataru Ltd, United Industrial House Premises Co. Soc. Ltd and Klassik Homes Pvt. Ltd, challenging the decision taken by the Appellate Committee on April 23, 2019.
The petitioners are developing plots of land that are 2 km away from one of the existing Airport Surveillance Radars (ASR) that services the Mumbai International Airport.
As per the pleas, in September 2015, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation had laid down parametres for carrying out construction and development activities within the vicinity of airports.
The petitioners'' lawyers contended that based on these rules, the petitioners were entitled to the maximum permissible height because all of the said plots satisfy the requirement of being more than 2 km away from any one of the ASRs that service Mumbai airport.
In April 2018, the Union government proposed to amend the 2015 rules and had invited objections and suggestions.
One of the proposed amendments was to make the maximum permissible height available to a plot only if it is at a distance of more than 2 km away from all the ASRs that service an airport.
In April last year, the Appellate Committee decided to adopt the proposed amendment that prescribed the requirement of a plot being more than 2 km away from all the ASRs to be entitled to the benefit of the maximum permissible height.
In May 2019, the three petitioners filed applications based on the provisions of the 2015 rules that were and are in force before the AAI seeking a No Objection Certificate for grant of highest permissible top elevation for their buildings.
In August, 2019 the AAI issued the NOC but granted reduced permissible top elevation, while relying on the decision taken by the Appellate Committee.
Aggrieved by this, the developers approached the high court.
While quashing the Appellate Committee''s order, the bench noted that the Central government could regulate activities within the vicinity of any airport, but in doing so the government must act in accordance with the provisions of the law and rules made thereunder.
The court also directed the AAI to consider afresh the applications submitted by the petitioners in accordance with the provisions of the 2015 rules.