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'Cases Of Celebrities Are Critical Cases?' Bombay HC Grills Mumbai Civic Body Officials In Kangana Ranaut Case Hearing

Nitish Kashyap
28 Sep 2020 1:58 PM GMT
Cases Of Celebrities Are Critical Cases? Bombay HC Grills Mumbai Civic Body Officials In Kangana Ranaut Case Hearing
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During the course of hearing in Kangana Ranaut's writ petition challenging the demolition of her bungalow turned office at Pali Hill, the Bombay High Court questioned the officials of the Mumbai civic body, who were made parties in the matter along with Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut as the petitioner alleged malice in fact and malice in law by the corporation.Bhagyavant Late, the Designated...

During the course of hearing in Kangana Ranaut's writ petition challenging the demolition of her bungalow turned office at Pali Hill, the Bombay High Court questioned the officials of the Mumbai civic body, who were made parties in the matter along with Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut as the petitioner alleged malice in fact and malice in law by the corporation.

Bhagyavant Late, the Designated Officer of H Ward and the Assistant Engineer of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) appeared before the bench comprising Justices S J Kathawalla and R I Chagla at around 4:40 pm.

What ensued did not seem to help the Corporation's case.

The bench compared the course of action adopted by the BMC with respect to Kangana's case and other similar cases of alleged unauthorized construction.

After examining the list of cases wherein similar cause of action was applicable (notice under Section 354A of the BMC Act) as per the Corporation, the bench asked BMC's officer Bhagyavant Late when were the photographs (of another case of one Mr.Hirwani wherein notice under Section 354A was issued for the same ward) taken for the first time.

September 4th, Late answered.

Kathawalla J: Why have you not annexed photographs in the present case as in the case of Mr.Hirwani? (Notice was issued to Hirwani under Section 354A)

After getting no response, Court said "If you have no answer just say that."

BMC Officer: No answer

Referring to another case where notice was issued by the Corporation under Section 354A, Justice Kathawalla asked- "In this case you have taken photographs to show work is going on?"

BMC Officer: Yes

Court: Then why have you not taken photos to show work was going on in the present case? Again, if you have no answer you can tell us.

BMC Officer: No answer

Then the bench noted that in a similar case, police were not called during the demolition; whereas police force was present during the demolition of Kangana's property. Hence, Court asked the officer why police was taken in the case of Kangana.

BMC officer : We do that in critical cases.

J Kathawalla : What is a critical case? What constitutes a critical case? Cases of celebrities are critical cases?

BMC Officer: No sir

Thereafter, the bench referred to another case and enquired- Why did you not take a panchnama and demolish it as you did in this case? Why did you come back?

Justice Kathawalla asked the Designated Officer as to why in another case of unauthorized construction in which notice was issued on Sep 4, but no immediate action was taken and the person got injunction from civil court in the meantime.

"You waited so that he can get an injunction?", Kathawalla J remarked.

Court further enquired from the designated officer in Marathi.

Kathawalla J : Did you see any plaster work or any other work that was ongoing when you were carrying out the detection? If you demolished it on September 8, why are there no photos, you have no proof that you have demolished it on September 8. Is there any entry on your (MCGM) system to reflect that demolition was carried out on September 8?

BMC Officer: No entry is made.

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

Addressing Senior Advocate Anil Sakhare, who appeared for the Designated Officer in the matter, Justice Kathawalla said- "Mr.Sakhare this is extremely fishy. They have no record!"

Senior Advocate Sakhare had no response.

At this juncture, someone (a lawyer) was heard whispering to the BMC officials.

'Stop whispering. We can hear the whispers', J Kathawalla told after hearing the lawyer whispering to BMC officials.

In one case, notice on September 4, demolition on 8. In another case, notice on Sep 5, demolition on 14, Justice Kathawalla remarked. (in Kangana's case, notice on Sept 8, demolition on September 9).

In the pre-noon session, the bench had heard Dr. Birendra Saraf, Senior Advocate, who appeared for Kangana Ranaut. The bench also played the clip of Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, which contained his statements against the actor.

The bench also heard Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy for the corporation in the afternoon.

The court will continue the hearing tomorrow at 3 PM.

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