Stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma stirred up a controversy when he took to Twitter to put forth a bribe complaint against BMC. However, the issue seems to have taken a 360 degree turn with the body now claiming that the artist had flouted norms not only in his Versova office building but also in his apartment in suburban Goregaon.
"We received two complaints from separate people about illegal construction being done in Sharma's both premises, one in Versova and another in Goregaon. In both the cases, we followed the due procedure and first served notice before initiating action," said a senior BMC official, seeking anonymity.
"In the Versova case, the Corporation had served a notice on him on July 16. Since he did not pay heed to it, we demolished the illegal portion of his office structure on August 4. As far as another complaint is concerned, he was served notice under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act in April for unauthorised work on his 9th floor apartment at Goregaon (West)," he said.
Kapil had yesterday kicked up a row when he tweeted that BMC officers sought a bribe of Rs 5 lakh for the construction of his premises in Versova. However, he has not so far, put forth his side on the allegations of violation of norms levelled by the civic body.
Asked why BMC took 19 days to demolish illegal structure at Versova, Parag Masurkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner K-west ward, where Sharma's office is located, said "Generally we do give some extra time to the occupants or owners of the premises to put forward the copies or permissions to justify their work and wait for the reply. Meanwhile, we uploaded the contents and nature of the complaint at complaint tracking portal too."
"We have devised an online complaint tracking system. When we receive any complaints, we go to the site, take photographs and on that basis we generate the notices and upload it while monitoring it till it is redressed," said Masurkar, adding that the procedure wipes out all the chances of corruption.
"In Versova premises case, Sharma carried out unauthorised horizontal extension in his ground-plus-one storey row house and also carried out the construction at upper floor without mandatory permission.
"Since he did not come forward to show the copies of permissions, we followed the rule and demolished it as and when we got police security," he said.
Also, BMC officers are yet to receive any response from Sharma on the name of the bribe seeker so as to initiate action against the erring officer.
"Sharmaji has not made any contact with us or with our department so far," said Manohar Pawar, chief engineer of vigilance department who had yesterday requested the actor to name the officer who demanded the bribe.
Sharma has 63 lakh followers on his Twitter handle and since he tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the tweet generated sharp reactions from all major political parties, with an eye on the forthcoming civic elections.
It was 'retweeted' and 'liked' by thousands on the social media.
Opposition Congress used the issue to target BJP and Shiv Sena, who together control BMC.
Shiv Sena, meanwhile, dared Kapil to name the bribe seeker.
"This is not a comedy show where he can tweet what is going on in his life. He needs to immediately name the person publicly who asked for a bribe or people would watch the whole episode like a comedy drama, laugh over it and forget about it," Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said.
Raj Thackeray-led MNS also reacted sharply to Sharma, seizing on a statement he reportedly made alluding to role of its workers.
Kapil yesterday tweeted his anguish and said, "I am paying Rs 15 cr income tax from last 5 year n still i have to pay 5 lacs bribe to BMC office for making my office @narendramodi (sic)."
"Yeh hain aapke achhe din? @narendramodi (are these your good days)," he had sought to know in another tweet yesterday, referring to Modi's 2014 poll slogan of "good days are ahead".
It sparked instant response from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who requested Sharma to provide the authorities with the necessary information to punish the culprit.
"Kapilbhai pls provide all info. Have directed MC, BMC to take strictest action. We will not spare the culprit," the Chief Minister said in a tweet yesterday to which Kapil thanked the CM.
Later, in an apparent attempt to cap the controversy from escalating, Sharma said he did not seek to blame any political party.
"I just voiced my concern on the corruption I faced with certain individuals..Its No blame on any political party be it BJP, MNS or ShivSena (sic)," he tweeted in the evening.
(With PTI inputs)