In a major reprieve to actor Shah Rukh Khan, the Bombay high court dismissed yet another public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the seven-storey building constructed by him behind his heritage bungalow, Mannat, in Bandstand, Bandra.
A division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice Amjad Sayed also imposed a cost of Rs 20,000 on two petitioners and activists Simpreet Singh and Amit Maru and questioned their interest in the structure.
While dismissing the PIL, justice Majmudar observed: “This seems to be nothing but a publicity petition.”
The PIL, filed in 2010, alleged that the film star was constructing the building in the compound of his bungalow, which was in mass violation of the environment and heritage laws. The PIL had pointed out 32 violations.
This was the third PIL dismissed by the court in the issue. Earlier in October 2010, the high court had dismissed a PIL filed by NGO Brashtachar Nirmoolan. A similar petition filed against Mannat was dismissed in 2004 and subsequently by the Supreme Court in 2006.
During the hearing, the court asked the petitioners’ counsel YP Singh whether they (petitioners) were willing to deposit Rs 50,000 with the registry to prove their bonafides.
As Singh refused to deposit the amount, Majmudar observed: “It is therefore clear that the PIL is filed only for sake of filing. We have our own doubts about your bonafide. If we encourage such PILs, it will send a wrong signal to citizens.”
The court even questioned the petitioners for singling out Mannat. The court further asked what the petitioners, residents of Tardeo in south Mumbai, had to with the construction in Bandra. The judges asked: “How are you concerned with this construction or with Shah Rukh Khan? Do you reside in that area? You cannot target him simply because he is a film star.”
Senior counsel Darius Khambata, while arguing for the actor, said that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had granted an occupational certificate in the year 2006 and the PIL was filed much later.
Petitioners’ counsel Singh said that they would be challenging the high court order before the Supreme Court.
“We will be filing an appeal against this order in the Supreme Court and vindicate our stand,” Singh said.