High Court upholds order for NEWPORT owner to pay over MVR 1 million to State

An aerial view of the bridge viewing platform area developed by Strada Private Limited. (Photo/Strada)

High Court has ruled to uphold Civil Court’s decision ordering the Strada Private Limited – the company operating NEWPORT – to pay the State over MVR 1 million.

During former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s administration – an agreement was made between the Housing Ministry and Strada to develop a bridge viewing platform, a food outlet, and a parking area at Lonuziyaaraiy Kolhu.

Strada had failed to make the rent payment and subsequent fine payments under the ‘Agreement on the development of a bridge viewing platform’ which was signed on September 22, 2016 – following which the current administration had nullified the agreement.

In this regard, on March 7, 2019, Planning Ministry had sent a notice to Strada – informing them to vacate the premises allotted to them under the agreement for the development of a bridge viewing platform within one months’ period, and handover to the State. However, Strada had failed to act accordingly.

Subsequently, the State had filed a case against Strada with the Civil Court. Following their review of the case, on February 27, 2019, Civil Court ruled against Strada – stating that they were not entitled to use the land allotted under the agreement after the date on which it was nullified. Noting that Strada had used the land even after the agreement was nullified – Civil Court ordered them to pay the State the rent and fine payments incurred until the date in which the premise is vacated and handed over to the State.

The judgment noted that as of February 7, 2019, Strada owed a total of MVR 1,149,271 to the State – which is inclusive of the non-paid rent, fines and compensation.

Civil Court had ordered Strada to vacate the land and handover to the State within 15 days’ time from the date of the judgment – and also to finish paying up the monies owed to State within 30 days’ time from the date of judgment.

Subsequently, Strada had appealed the case to the High Court. The three judges who had presided over the case in High Court had also sided against Strada and ruled to uphold Civil Court’s judgment. In High Court’s judgment – it was noted that Strada had failed to show a reason in order to invalidate the basis the Civil Court’s judgment had been built upon.

The Anti-Corruption Commission had recently requested the Prosecutor General’s Office to file charges of corruption against Male’ City Mayor, former Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu for allegedly providing undue advantage to Strada in connection to the bridge viewing platform agreement. Muizzu has denied any wrongdoings.