The Bombay high court on Monday issued a notice of criminal and civic contempt to civic commissioner Ajoy Mehta for regularising illegal constructions carried out by a city councillor’s husband in their bungalow at Vile Parle by overreaching the court.
“The act of entertaining revised plans and sanctioning it by the municipal commissioner and approving regularisation of the offending construction by the municipal corporation clearly constitute criminal contempt,” said the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Amjad Sayed while issuing notice for criminal contempt to Mehta.
Acting on a petition filed by activist Jitendra Janawale, the high court had on 17 June 2016 ordered the assistant commissioner, K-West ward to inspect councillor Binita Vira’s bungalow in Ville Parle (west) and initiate demolition if he found that additional illegal construction was carried out. At the same time, the court had directed the municipal commissioner to take action under section 18 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 — of declaring Vira disqualified from the post of a councillor.
The judges, however, noticed that the municipal commissioner had not only failed to comply with the order, but also entertained a revised plan submitted by the councillor’s husband. The civic chief had sanctioned and forwarded the revised plan for approval of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) general body to get the offending construction regularised.
The judges said that this action by the civic commissioner amounted “to overreach” the court’s orders.
They were also irked to note that the councillor’s husband had moved the city civil court challenging the demolition notice issued by the BMC. And, even though the civil court had rejected the plea for interim protection, the civic authorities ignored high court orders to demolish the offending structure, merely because a law officer of the civic body had opined against taking action during pendency of Vira’s suit before the city civil court.
The bench also issued a civic contempt notice to the civic chief noticing that his acts also amounted to deliberate and wilful breach of the high court’s order. The bench has now directed Mehta to show cause, why action for both criminal and civil contempt should not be initiated against him for overreaching the court. He has been granted him time till November 18 to respond to the notices.