BMC hires four law firms despite having legal cell; criticised for wasting Mumbaiites’ money

Civic body justifies hire, says it needs help to clear the 70, 000 cases pending in courts

mumbai Updated: Feb 22, 2018 12:37 IST
Sagar Pillai
Sagar Pillai
Hindustan Times
BMC,law firms,pending court cases
Of the 12 law firms that applied, the BMC has now selected four.(HT File Photo)

Despite having its own legal cell, with several renowned lawyers being paid in lakhs, the Mumbai civic body recently hired four law firms.

These firms are expected to handle cases, as well as provide research and expertise on important civic issues such as solid waste management, Deonar dumping ground issue, open spaces and certain property disputes, all of which are sub-judice.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), however, will continue allotting cases to its legal cell as well.

Of the 12 law firms that applied, the BMC has now selected four — Meharia & Co, JS Wad & Co, Chitale & Chitale Partners and SKS Law Associates.

Last year, the Bombay high court had criticised the BMC’s legal department for paying crores to senior lawyers for handling petty matters such as the demolition of unauthorised structures.

Explaining the need for more law firms, deputy municipal commissioner Nidhi Choudhari said: “There are more than 70, 000 BMC court cases pending. These are time-consuming and there is an urgent need to bring down these cases to a manageable number. We require a team of legal experts and senior lawyers to give opinion, and junior lawyers to manage the field and paper work, which can be done through the law firms. Also, we want the law firms to handle human rights and environmental cases.”

Political leaders criticised the move, alleging that the BMC is wasting the taxpayers’ money. Samajwadi Party leader Rais Shaikh said: “Now, the BMC wants external assistance. This clearly shows the inability of the civic body’s legal cell to handle cases. But the BMC continues to pay hefty fees to these lawyers who have shown disappointing results for the past several years. Ultimately, the BMC is spending the taxpayers’ money.”

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 12:37 IST