The HC bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla said that “though the manner in which the BMC proceeded to commence the demolition prima facie…smacks of mala fide…it was giving an opportunity to the corporation to explain its conduct on affidavit by 3pm on Thursday”.
The order came at an urgent hearing within hours of a civic squad launching the demolition. The BMC, controlled by the Shiv Sena which is part of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in the state, had despatched a squad with heavy machinery to her place in the morning and flattened portions of the rowhouse. Kangana, who was vacationing in her hometown in Himachal Pradesh, landed in the city a few hours after the BMC’s action began.
Before she reached Mumbai, Kangana, through her lawyer Rizwan Siddiquee, had approached the HC to prevent the “illegal, arbitrary and mala fide” demolition, which she claimed was “a fallout over the difference of opinion with certain influential people operating in the civic administration and the Maharashtra government”. The actor sought directions to quash the BMC’s stop-work notice issued on Tuesday.
The HC found fault with the BMC’s conduct, “more so” since it had filed a caveat expecting her petition. The bench informed senior counsel Anil Sakhare that “such conduct… is totally unacceptable”.
BMC trying to waste court’s time, says HC
The HC bench said, “It is clear that the unauthorised works have not come up overnight. However, all of a sudden, the corporation appears to have woken up from its slumber, issued notice to the petitioner… 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…on completion of 24 hours.”
The HC added, “We cannot help but mention here that if the BMC would act with similar swiftness on the numerous unauthorised constructions in this city, it (the city) would be a completely different place to live in.”
When the matter was called out at 12.30pm, initially no lawyer appeared for the BMC, and Siddiquee said by then, 40% of the premises was razed. The BMC’s in-house lawyer then said they did not have the petition copy and no officer was present with her. The HC took the view that the BMC was “trying to waste the court’s time and in the meantime, complete the demolition”. It then orally instructed the BMC lawyer to immediately convey its direction to the civic chief to stop demolition.
The corporation had sent Ranaut a 24-hour notice on Tuesday, warning of action for alterations made on the ground and first floors of the structure. The BMC has also targeted the actor’s apartment in Khar.