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Bombay HC Reserves Judgment On Kangana Ranaut's Petition Against Mumbai Civic Body Demolishing Her Bungalow

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
5 Oct 2020 6:16 AM GMT
Bombay HC Reserves Judgment On Kangana Ranauts Petition Against Mumbai Civic Body Demolishing Her Bungalow
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The Bombay High Court on Monday reserved judgment on the writ petition filed by Hindi film actor Kangana Ranaut against the demolition of the portion of her bungalow by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).A bench comprising Justices S J Kathawalla and Riyaz I Chagla reserved the matter after hearing elaborate oral arguments in the high profile matter spread over several days.On...

The Bombay High Court on Monday reserved judgment on the writ petition filed by Hindi film actor Kangana Ranaut against the demolition of the portion of her bungalow by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

A bench comprising Justices S J Kathawalla and Riyaz I Chagla reserved the matter after hearing elaborate oral arguments in the high profile matter spread over several days.

On Monday, the counsels for the parties told the bench that they have submitted written arguments as directed by the bench earlier.

Dr. Birendra Saraf and Aspi Chinoy, Senior Advocates appearing for Kangana and the Mumbai civic body respectively, thanked the bench for the "patient hearing in a difficult matter".

It was on September 9 that the BMC started the demolition of the actor's luxurious bungalow situated at Pali Hills, Bandra citing the reason that structural alterations were done without prior approval from the civic body as per the municipal building laws.

On that day itself, acting on an urgent plea moved by the actor's lawyer Advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, the High Court stayed the demolition, as it was progressing.

The bench had then expressed its dismay at the action of the BMC, and termed that it prima facie "smacks of mala fides".

"From the works set out in the Notice, it is clear beyond any doubt that the works which are 'unauthorised' have not come up overnight. However, all of a sudden, the Corporation appears to have overnight woken up from its slumber, issued Notice to the Petitioner, that too when she is out of the State, directing her to respond within 24 hours, and not granting her any further time, despite written request, and proceeding to demolish the said Premises upon completion of 24 hours. Though the manner in which the MCGM has proceeded to commence demolition work of the said Premises, prima facie does not appear to be bonafide and smacks of malafide, we are giving an opportunity to the MCGM to explain its stand / conduct on Affidavit by 3.00 p.m. tomorrow.", the HC had observed in its order passed on September 9.

In the following days, the Court started to hear oral arguments of the parties.

Kangana's lawyer, Dr. Saraf, submitted that the BMC's action was a vindictive response to the various critical remarks made by her against the Maharashtra government. He claimed that the alterations were done with all necessary approvals. The senior lawyer further argued that the BMC officials flouted procedural laws while carrying out the demolition without preparing the necessary sketch report, panchnama, and affixing photographs.

Saraf submitted that in any case, the BMC ought to have afforded her sufficient opportunity to explain her stance. There was even an option of seeking regularization, if at all there was any unauthorized construction. So, the hasty demolition, without affording such opportunities to the actor, was vitiated by "malice in law" and "malice in fact", submitted Saraf.

She claimed a compensation of Rs 2 crores from the Mumbai civic body.

In response, BMC's lawyer, Senor Advocate Aspi Chinoy, submitted that the building had substantive structural alterations which were carried out unauthorizedly. In response to the notice sent by the BMC, the actor did not offer any explanation other than making a bland denial that no work was going, when there was clear evidence of unauthorized works progressing, with the presence of workers and work materials. In view of such a bland denial without any further explanation, Section 354A of the BMC Act was attracted, which empowers the officials to act within a period of 24 hours of the notice. Chinoy also questioned the maintainability of the writ petition as there were complex questions of facts involved and urged the bench to ask the actor to approach a civil court for remedy.

Kangana's Public Utterance Do Not Give Immunity To Her Unlawful Acts: Sr Adv Aspi Chinoy Submits For BMC

Kangana had also added Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut as a party in the case, alleging personal mala-fides against him. She stated in her petition that the demolition followed after Raut said that Ranaut needed to be "taught a lesson".

During the hearing, the bench elaborately quizzed the BMC as to the reasons for not acting with similar alacrity against other cases of unauthorized constructions.

Justice Kathawalla, the presiding judge, grilled the officials of the BMC, who appeared via video conferencing, regarding the reasons for the exceptional action taken against Ranaut, while condoning other cases of unauthorized constructions.

Kangana Ranaut Case: Did You Act With Same Swiftness Against Other Unauthorized Constructions? Bombay HC Asks Mumbai Civic Body
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