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Monday, October 19, 2020

Kangana Ranaut office demolition: Bombay HC closes arguments, reserves order in case against BMC

During the previous hearings, the bench questioned the BMC's swiftness in demolishing Ranaut's property.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai | Updated: October 5, 2020 6:40:13 pm
Kangana Ranaut, BJP campaign, Shimla news, Himachal Pradesh news, Indian express newsKangna Ranaut in Chandigarh amid high security on September 9, 2020. (Express Photo: Jasbir Malhi)

The Bombay High Court Monday reserved its order in actor Kangana Ranaut’s petition against the September 9 demolition of her Pali Hill Bungalow by the Bandra by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

On Monday, parties to the case submitted elaborate written submissions to the division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice R I Chagla and with no more submissions or arguments left to make, the court decided to close the matter for order.

On September 9, through an urgent hearing, the High Court had stayed the demolition of the alleged unauthorised structures at Ranaut’s property, hours after the BMC had started the exercise. The court’s order restraining BMC from undertaking further demolition work at the property will continue until further orders.

On September 10, BMC, through senior counsel Aspi Chinoy and advocate Joel Carlos had told that actor Kangana Ranaut had been carrying out “substantial alterations” in her Bandra property “contrary to sanctioned plan” and its action of demolition of these structures was justified and without any “malafide”.

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Thereafter, on September 15, Ranaut amended her plea and sought Rs. 2 crore as damages for BMC’s action. On September 18, the BMC told HC that Ranaut’s claims for compensation for the partial demolition of her Pali Hill property were “baseless” and “bogus”.

However, Kangana, through an additional affidavit to her plea through advocate Rizwan Siddiquee denied BMC’s allegations on September 21.

On September 22, the court had also asked actor Kangana Ranaut to make Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and Bhagyavant Late, a designated officer of BMC H-West ward, as parties to the case.

This came after HC noted that since she had submitted a DVD of statements made by Raut, he should be given an opportunity to be heard and the BMC officer can also respond to allegations.

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On September 24, HC said it “cannot leave Kangana Ranaut’s Bandra office to remain in a partly demolished state during monsoons” and it will begin hearing the actor’s petition against BMC from next day, September 25.

On September 25, HC said that it will examine if the structures demolished at the actor’s bungalow were under construction or had existed earlier after the actor’s lawyers informed it that there was “no ongoing work” on the premises.

The court sought to know why the BMC had invoked Section 354 (A) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, pertaining to issuance of a “stop work” notice for an ongoing construction or other work at a site, and not Section 351 that pertains to “completed unauthorised work” but prescribes giving enough notice to the owner of the property to file a reply.

Senior counsel Birendra Saraf, appearing for Ranaut, had told the court there was no ongoing work on the premise and BMC’s action was malafide, arbitrary, and had “ignored every provision of law”.

The BMC had submitted that work was indeed taking place at Ranaut’s property during detection and inspection on September 5 and 7, respectively, and hence the civic authority was justified in considering it as a continuation of alterations and additions done in the past and invoking Section 354 (A) of the MMC Act.

Chinoy had also refuted the allegation that the demolition was at the behest of Raut and said that the detection on September 5 took place at 1 pm, while the twitter spat between the actor and Sanjay Raut started after 5 pm.

When the Court asked Ranaut to substantiate her claims that she had been abused by Raut, Saraf played a clip of an interview of Raut to a TV channel, where he was heard saying “woh xxxx ladki”. Saraf said the expletive referred to Ranaut.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut did not mention the name of actor Kangana Ranaut when he used an expletive to describe a “girl”, his lawyer advocate Pradeep Thorat on September 28 told the HC, after the Court asked him to clarify if his client had used an abusive word against the actor.

However, on September 29 HC said that while it did not agree with actor Kangana Ranaut’s tweets against the state government and the Mumbai Police, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut should have shown “grace” and restraint while responding to her.

The observations were made by the bench after the court examined Raut’s affidavit in which he admitted that the expletive that he used in an interview to a television channel was directed at Ranaut.

Senior counsel Anil Sakhare, appearing for BMC’s designated officer, said that Ranaut had made vague allegations and did not have a case on merits. He added that since she was unable to prove the case on facts or laws, she alleged malafide and tried to divert the attention of the court.

The Court will pronounce its verdict on the actor’s plea in due course.

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