Pulling up the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Tuesday for making “absolute false statements”, the Bombay High Court asked the assistant municipal commissioner (Andheri West) to reconstruct the workstations of lifeguards at Juhu Beach, demolished by the civic body without any written complaint, at his own cost.
The Juhu Beach Life Guard Association had filed a writ petition stating that their base station had been in existence since 2010 and had the required permission from authorities but the station was illegally demolished by the BMC in March.
The association has sought identifying the concerned officials who had carried out the action, so that appropriate action could be taken against them. It has also asked for reimbursement of Rs 66 lakh to buy equipment destroyed.
The BMC said it had not demolished the structure on its own but in accordance to a complaint received by Airport Authority of India (AAI).
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“We had only provided the manpower for the action,” said BMC’s lawyer.
The court, however, said it had been BMC’s decision to demolish the structure and they had merely informed the AAI about it.
“This is an absolutely false statement,” said Justice A S Oka.
The civic body argued that it had received complaints from the local MLA and the AAI. “You must follow law. If a person writes to you that there is some illegal activity in his property, will you take action without following the process laid down? Why did you not issue a show cause notice before initiating such action?” said the court seeking for the written complaints in this matter.
The BMC said they had only received verbal complaints. “Tell us one case where the BMC has taken steps based on oral complaints,” questioned Justice Oka.
The BMC countered this by saying the complaint was by a public authority. The civic body pointed out that there were several illegal structures on the beach. “You have to make a distinction between legal and illegal structures,” said Justice Oka.
“We give last opportunity. Ask the assistant commissioner if he will construct the structure at his own cost,” added the High Court.
The assistant commissioner has been asked to file an affidavit stating that the action was taken based on an oral complaint, adding he has no objection to reconstruction of the structure at his own cost. The court will then look if disciplinary action is required to be taken against the officer. The matter has been kept for hearing on Thursday.