The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)'s move to demolish Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut's office a day ago that attracted huge flak was in tune with a Supreme Court judgment pertaining to illegal constructions, officials said here on Thursday. On October 24, 2019, in a landmark verdict which settling a law of land, the Supreme Court had empowered the BMC to demolish any illegal constructions immediately after a 24-hour notice served as per provisions of law laid down by the apex court, said well known barrister Vinod Tiwari. "This crucial judgement came in a case of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai versus M/s. Sunbeam High Tech Developers Pvt. Ltd. (CA. No: 7626/7627 of 2019) which has empowered the BMC in such cases of illegal constructions to carry out demolitions," Tiwari told IANS.
As per the ruling, the BMC Commissioner/Competent Authority -- in the Kangana matter, it was the Assistant Municipal Commissioner H-West Ward -- on coming to know of such illegal construction violating the laws, it can issue a show cause notice with 24 hours time under Sec. 351 to the owner, occupier, builder, constractor, architect, etc of the premises.
This would be accompanied by photos or visual images displaying digitally time and date, of the site clearly depicting the illegal structures, said a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose.
Simultaneously, the civic authority can also issue an interim 'stop construction' along with the notice or anytime after issuing the notice, and this can include the relevant pictures of the alleged violation(s), as per the Apex Court judgement.
If the parties concerned reply to the notice, the civic authority can pass a reasoned order, but if the reply is not satisfactory, it will be conveyed to the opposite party giving them further 7 days time before demolishing the premises - and the party can also approach the higher authority or high court.
"However, in case the concerned party does not respond to the notice within the 24 hour time limit, then the BMC is empowered to immediately demolish it applying the rationale flowing from law settled by apex court - which was clearly done in the case of Kangana Ranaut on September 9," explained Barrister Tiwari.
As far as the Kangana matter goes, the BMC had given a much longer time to her since the notice was issued way back in 2018, against which she had gone in appeal and lost, it is learnt.
The construction was completed, on September 8, the demolition notice was served upon her after due inspection and the illegal constructions in the office and on September 9 the action followed in which more than three-fourths of the office was razed, before the Bombay High Court clamped a stay till September 10.
The law settled by the top court has even allowed the notice to be issued through the traditional mode, plus by email or mobile phone message, or even a foreman or the in-charge of the construction site to resolve the subsequent disputes pertaining to "alleged non-service of notice".
The BMC's move to demolish Kangana's office in Bandra west ignited a huge political row with the Shiv Sena-controlled BMC, plus the Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi state government.