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"We cannot help but mention here that if the MCGM would act with similar swiftness qua the numerous unauthorized constructions in this City, the City would be a completely different place to live in", the Court added.
Vague sketches in the notice issued by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (or the MCGM/BMC) in respect of the allegedly illegal alterations made by actress Kangana Ranaut on her property and the swiftness with which the demolition works commenced this morning drew sharp criticism from the Bombay High Court today.
While directing the BMC to stop the demolition works, the Court also commented,
The Bench of Justices RI Chagla and SJ Kathawalla proceeded to direct the BMC to file its response to the writ petition moved by Ranaut in the matter and to explain its conduct by 3 PM tomorrow when the matter will be taken up next.
"In the meantime, the MCGM is restrained from carrying out any further demolition qua the said Premises mentioned in the impugned Notice", the Court ordered.
Apart from issues observed in the BMC's initial notice of September 7 and the uncharacteristic swiftness noticed by the Court in the decision to start demolition, the delays on the part of the BMC in appearing during the Court hearing today also did not bode well for the municipal body.
The Court observed that the BMC's counsel did appear for the first 10 minutes of the hearing that took place this noon, despite notice being served by the petitioner and despite the Municipal Body itself having anticipated that a plea may be moved in its caveat filed yesterday.
The Bench further took note of the petitioner's submission that the BMC had commenced its demolition activity at 11 am in the morning and demolished about 40% of the premises.
When the in-house counsel finally appeared before the Court, it was informed that the BMC does not have a copy of the writ petition - a claim disputed by Ranaut's counsel. The counsel also denied having a copy of the BMC's September 7 notice.
"When this Court inquired as to who is instructing her in the matter, she informed the Court that none of the Officers of the MCGM are present with her", the Court further recorded.
Opining that the MCGM was trying to waste the time of the Court so that the demolition work in dispute could be completed, the Court recorded that it had to orally instruct the Advocate to inform the Municipal Commissioner to stop the demolition work amid the hearing.
The controversy did not end here, as the order records that initial attempts to inform the Municipal Commissioner were to no avail as his cellphone was continuously switched off.
However, ten minutes later, the in-house counsel informed the Court that the Municipal Commissioner has been informed, and fifteen minutes thereafter, Senior Advocate AY Sakhare appeared for the BMC.
Expressing its displeasure over the manner in which the BMC had conducted itself in the case, the Bench proceeded to state,
Whereas Senior Advocate Sakhar immediately arranged for the Municipal Authorities to appear online and answer the Court's queries, the Bench remained unsatisfied as to the bona fides of the BMC's conduct. In this regard, the Bench observed,
The matter will be heard tomorrow.
Read the Order: