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Another Trust Moves HC Regarding Cancellation of Lease

Wilson College Gymkhana dispute: Another trust moves HC over lease cancellation |

A second group of members of the Church of North India (CNI) have approached the Bombay High Court in the dispute over the handover of the Wilson College Gymkhana on Marine Drive to the Jain International Organization (JIO).

The court is already hearing a writ petition from the United Church of North India Trust Association (UCNITA), the trust which owned the gymkhana lease, challenging the Mumbai district collector’s cancellation of the 114-year-old gymkhana lease. The motion is scheduled to be heard on June 10.

The court will hear the second petition, filed by another trust claiming to be the real UCNITA, on June 11. The Wilson College Alumni Association, Chowpatty, also filed an interim application, seeking to be included in the petition. UCNITA is the guardian of property belonging to the CNI, a Protestant church. However, there are two sets of trustees, both claiming to be the authorized custodian of the properties.

The lease of the gymkhana had belonged to the college for over a century. On March 16, the Maharashtra government passed a Government Resolution (GR), allotting the 1.02 lakh land plot to JIO.

The rental agreement between the government and UCNITA signed in September 1998 had expired in December 1999. Under the new rental rules, the college was allowed to use the gymkhana at a higher rent.

On December 5, 2023, the Mumbai Collector ordered the acquisition of the gymkhana land, citing violations and breach of lease agreement. The trust challenged the Collector’s decision in the Maharashtra Land Revenue Tribunal, but the court upheld the Collector’s order in an order dated March 11, 2024.

The GR, which handed over the gymkhana for 30 years to JIO, says that permission from the BMC is necessary before any construction on the land. Since the land falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone, permission is required from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority before using the land. Additionally, given that the gymkhana is a Level II protected heritage district under municipal rules, permissions are required from the Heritage Conservation Committee before any change of land.

Following the loss of the gymkhana, a commission of inquiry was formed by the John Wilson Education Society, the college management trust, UCNITA and CNI, to find out how the lease of the playing field had been cancelled. The committee has not yet submitted its report.

Church members said they hoped the gymkhana would remain open for sports. “We want the land to be used as a playground for young people, students and the general public only for sporting activities,” said lawyer Cyril Dara, church activist and secretary of the Christian Reform association. United People.