After a two-decade wait, 96-year-old south Mumbai resident, Vasant Mody, received some reprieve on Monday. The Bombay high court asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to inspect the damage caused to her house due to leakage from the house above.
Mody, a resident of Vijaya Apartments at Peddar Road, first complained to the BMC and her housing society about the leakage in her bedroom in 1991 after alterations were made in the eighth-floor flat, owned by Siddharth Bhandari, son of Romesh Bhandari, former foreign secretary and ex-governor of Delhi.
Bhandari, who owns the eighth and ninth floors of the building, changed the location of the bathroom to a spot above Mody's bedroom. Bhandari also constructed an internal staircase connecting the flats on the two flats.
After filing a suit in the city civil court and pursuing the matter with the corporation and the housing society for nearly two decades, Mody's daughter Aparna Chawalla, 66, moved the Bombay high court in 2010 against the BMC's decision of August 23, 2007, to regularise these changes.
The petition said the BMC had in October 1982 granted two no-objection certificates (NoC) to Bhandari in 1982 and 1991 for carrying out the alterations in the flat.
Senior counsel Jai Chinai and advocate Astha Jahmankar argued on behalf of Chawalla that Bhandari had made illegal alterations to the flat. The petition said the water from Bhandari's bathroom was seeping into Mody's bedroom and her kitchen window was sagging because of the internal staircase the Bhandaris had built.
A division bench of justice DK Deshmukh and justice AV Mohta quashed the BMC's regularisation order and asked the corporation to depute an officer to inspect Mody's and Bhandari's flats on March 17. "If the corporation finds there is substance to the grievance raised by the petitioner, then it shall take action in accordance with law," the court said.
Chinai alleged that the BMC was not acting on Mody's compliant because Romesh Bhandari was an influential person.
The petition had claimed that the BMC had first rejected Bhandari's application for regularisation in October 2005. In November 2005, Bhandari's wife, Vanita, wrote to the BMC asking it to reconsider their application. Her letter referred to a meeting she had with the then municipal commissioner Johny Joseph and his officer on special duty.
The BMC reopened the proposal in February 2006 and, in August 2007, passed an order regularising the alterations the Bhandaris had carried out.
The counsel for BMC, Anil Sakhare, and Bhandari's advocate, A Mogre, argued that the BMC Act allowed the alterations to be regularised.