The Bombay High Court Monday continued till January 13 the stay on a civil court order dismissing actor Sonu Sood’s plea against a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) notice to him over illegal changes made to his Juhu building.
The City Civil Court on December 19 had also restrained the BMC from taking coercive action against the actor for three weeks. A single-judge bench of Justice Prithviraj K Chavan continued this interim relief till January 13.
Last week, Sood had moved the High Court, challenging the civil court order that dismissed his petition against the BMC notice. Sood and his wife Sonali, in their petition filed through advocate D P Singh, said they did not carry out any “illegal or unauthorised” construction in the six-storey Shakti Sagar building.
On October 27 last year, the BMC had issued a notice under Section 53 (1) of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act to the Soods, giving them a month’s time to restore the property as per the original plan or get approval for changes made.
Challenging the civil court’s order of December 19, Sood contended that the court “ought to have considered that the notice was issued by the complainant (BMC) who is hell-bent on causing harm to the property of the appellants if at all its illegal demands are not satisfied”.
He also stated that the BMC notice was in contravention of provisions of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act. Sood contended that the notice was issued with “malafide intent” and was “nothing but blackmailing tactics issued at the behest of the complainant (BMC)”.
On Monday, advocate Amogh Singh told the bench that the actor has not carried out any illegal or unauthorised construction in the Shakti Sagar building, and therefore the notice was ‘ex facie illegal’ and no principle of natural justice was exercised.”
However, Senior Counsel Anil Sakhare, representing BMC, said that Sood has been illegally converting the residential building into a ‘hotel’ without permissions or licences.
“There are 24 rooms in the six-storey residential building and flats are converted into hotel rooms. The BMC had twice taken demolition action. Once in the year 2018 and then in February last year, and still illegal construction is on, which led to issuance of notice,” Sakhare said.
He added, “There is one restaurant on the ground floor. There is no license to run hotel premises in the building,” Sakhare added that a complaint has now been filed by the civic body at the Juhu police station.
Justice Chavan then inquired with advocate Singh if the actor had indeed converted the building into a hotel without license. “Whether you are conducting hotel/restaurant business without license, the court can ask any questions pertaining to case… If you are not coming to court with clean hands, then you will have to face consequences,” the judge said.
To this, Singh submitted that Sood is not conducting a hotel business, but the flats are rented out to people. Singh added that it was different from a restaurant and not a concern in this appeal.
BMC’s counsel also submitted that while the petition was served to it on Monday, it needs time to respond to the same.
In light of this, Justice Chavan noted, “The order passed by the trial court staying the effect of impugned order shall continue to operate till January 13.”
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