In some relief to BJP MLA Manda Mhatre in her ongoing feud against the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe, the Bombay High Court has granted a temporary stay on the demolition of the alleged illegal constructions in her house.
Mundhe has been involved in a bitter tussle with politicians in Navi Mumbai, especially Mhatre, after he decided to crack down on illegal constructions in the satellite city.
Mhatre has been living in a sprawling bungalow, ‘Gaurav’, in Belapur, since 2010. The house is owned by her sons Nilesh Mhatre and Yogesh Mhatre, and has some alterations done to it, such as changes in the main gate of the building and the construction of a shed on the terrace.
In 2015, a PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court by some locals about the alleged illegal work. The court then passed an order asking the NMMC to take necessary action if there was any unauthorised construction.
In April, after Mundhe took over as civic commisisoner, a hearing was fixed on the directives of the court and the Mhatres were given a three-week period in May to submit the plan of the construction carried out in the bungalow.
The Mhatres, however, stated that due to ‘unavoidable reasons’, they had been unable to submit the plan, and needed another 45 days.
The NMMC refused to grant this extension. On July 2, it gave a notice under Section 53 (1) of the MRTP Act to demolish the illegal construction, warning that criminal prosecution could be initiated against the owners of the structure.
During the same period, the NMMC also gave notices to various illegal constructions in Navi Mumbai.
With most of these structures located in Gaothans, where the original inhabitants of Navi Mumbai live, politicians of the city observed a bandh in July to protest against Mundhe. Mhatre had also complained against Mundhe to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The Mhatres also moved the High Court, seeking a stay on the NMMC order.
“The respondents have threatened the petitioners that the respondents will proceed further in accordance with the impugned notice and take necessary action for demolition of the subject construction which is having a minor variation,” the Mhatre family’s petition says.
Based on the petition, a bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai last week stayed the demolition.
“Considering the nature of the alleged unauthorised construction coupled with the fact that the petitioners were earlier granted an opportunity to file a revised plan, we are of the opinion that the interests of justice would be subserved if the petitioners are allowed to file the revised plan with further directions to respondent corporation to decide the same in accordance with law,” the order states.
The HC also asked the Mhatres to submit a revised plan to the NMMC within four weeks. It asked the NMMC to decide the case preferrably within a period of four weeks from the date of filing of the revised plan.