Apex court declines to stop Ambani’s dream mansion

May 2nd, 2008 - 9:56 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday refused to entertain a suit by the Maharashtra Waqf Board seeking to stop construction of a luxurious skyscraper by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani in Mumbai. A bench of Justice H.K. Sema and Justice Markandey Katju refused to stall the ongoing construction at Malabar and Cumbala Hills, overseeing the Arabian Sea.

The Maharastra Waqf Board had moved the apex court to seek invalidation of an October 2007 order of the Bombay High Court, which had restrained the board from cancelling an allegedly illegal sale of 4,532 sq mt plot to the Mukesh Ambani-owned Antilia Commercial Private Limited.

Refusing to interfere with the high court order, the bench said the high court should decide the illegality or otherwise of the sale of the land.

According to the Maharsatra Waqf Board petition, the plot belonged to a Mumbai orphanage that was begun by social activist and philanthropist Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja in 1894.

After the Waqf Act was legislated, the properties belonging to the orphange as well as other similar ones came to be treated as Waqf properties, which can be sold only with its permission, the board contended.

The Matunga-based Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja Orphanage, however, sold the land to Antilia Commercial in May 2002 without the Waqf permission for Rs.210 million, much below its estimated market value of Rs.4 billion.

The Waqf Board then initiated legal steps to cancel the sale.

The sale deed also stipulated that Antilia Commercial would be using the land only for “pious, religious and charitable purposes” as desired by Ebrahim Khoja.

In its petition, the Waqf Board pointed out that the land was sold to Antilia Commercial at a low price owing to the stipulation that it would be used only for setting up orphanages or similar socio-religious institution.

But the orphanage trustees later even assisted Antilia Commercial in having the stipulation waived off, said the Waqf petition.

The petition added that an erstwhile Waqf Board chairman wrongly accepted a sum of Rs.1.6 million from Antilia to help it settle the deal and waive off objections to it.

The sale deed came to the notice of a joint parliamentary panel that visited Mumbai in June 2007 after people complained of the illegal sale to Antilia. On the recommendation of the panel, the state government got the matter investigated by a one-man committee, known as Quadri Committee.

On the recommendation of the Quadri Committee, the Waqf Board bagan the process of cancelling the sale. But the process was stayed by the Bombay High Court on a plea by Antilla Commercial.

Mukesh Ambani’s skyscraper home in the city is to be over 170m tall and will have an army of 600 staff. The 27 floors, built on 4,532 sq mt plot, will provide a panoramic view of the entire city of Mumbai once completed.

According to the reports, the first six floors of the house will serve as car park. A health club will be built on the next two and the few floors above that will house the staff.

Ambani and his family will occupy the top floors of the building which will also have a helipad and swimming pools.

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