Bombay HC asks Kangana Ranaut to submit her tweets, video of Sanjay Raut; BMC refutes her claims about demolition

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Updated on Sep 28, 2020 11:29 PM IST
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ByK A Y Dodhiya, Mumbai

The Bombay high court (HC), while hearing the petition of actor Kangana Ranaut, asked her to substantiate the claim that she had been abused by Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut. Senior counsel Dr Birendra Saraf, appearing for the actor, played a video clip in which Raut is heard saying “Woh haramkhor ladki”. Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) responding to the court’s query during an earlier hearing on whether there was ongoing work at the time of inspection of Ranaut’s bungalow in Pali Hill, said that finishing work was being carried out on the unauthorised alterations and additions made in past.

Regarding Ranaut’s claim that Raut abused her on the social media platform, Dr Saraf said Raut used the abusive word to refer to Ranaut, and that it was the politician’s malice towards the actor which prompted the demolition of her bungalow on September 9. However, when the bench questioned Raut’s lawyer advocate Pradeep Thorat, he clarified that as his client had not mentioned the actor’s name when he spoke, it could not be construed that he had abused her.

Dr Saraf informed the court that the abusive stance of Raut had been prompted by a tweet by Ranaut on September 5.

Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, who appeared for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said, “I believe the tweet which is referred by Dr Saraf was made around 5pm. If Dr Saraf is referring to any other tweet prior to that, it will have some relevance.”

In light of this, Chinoy sought a clarification on the timing of the tweet which allegedly led to the altercation between Ranaut and Raut. After hearing the submissions, the court asked Dr Saraf to submit all of Ranaut’s tweets and the entire video interview of Raut.

Meanwhile, responding to the HC’s query regarding Ranaut’s petition filed through advocate Rizwan Siddiquee on September 9, seeking a stay on the ongoing demolition of her bungalow by BMC.

The civic body submitted that while the petitioner in her response to the stop-work notice issued on September 7 had claimed that there was no work going on, the work was ongoing, and added that the civic authority was justified in considering the finishing work to be in continuation with the previously made alterations and invoking section 354A of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act.

In view of this, BMC submitted that Ranaut’s claims were not maintainable as she had an alternate remedy available by filing a suit for claims and hence sought dismissal of the petition.

While hearing the BMC’s arguments and submissions in support of the demolition, the bench of justice SJ Kathawalla and justice RI Chagla was informed by Chinoy along with advocate Joel Carlos that the actor was trying cover up her illegal actions and get immunity by approaching the court.

“This case actually is on the other side of the coin. It is like claiming immunity by relying on your public utterances and saying that if action is taken against unlawful construction, it is harassment,” Chinoy said. He further submitted that the actor had not shown any exceptional circumstance to move the petition. “It cannot be that a political controversy that has been created by the petitioner in media is an exceptional circumstance,” said Chinoy.

The civic body then countered the actor’s claim that she was not in Mumbai when the notice was served and that she was not allowed time to respond. Chinoy said, “In this day if you can tweet while on your way from Mohali to Mumbai, you can also answer your advocate on the phone.”

While justifying the application of section 354A of the MMC Act, Chinoy submitted that in her response to the stop-work notice, the actor had said that there was no ongoing work even though the inspecting personnel had seen five workmen and a supervisor. “Had she replied that water-proofing work was going on, BMC would have given her seven days’ time, but as she refused [that any work was going on], the officers assumed that it was work in continuum to the unauthorised alterations and additions done in the past, and hence resorted to demolition within 24-hours of serving the notice,” he said.

Chinoy also pointed that in the petition or other documents filed by the actor during the course of the hearing she had not explicitly denied carrying out the unauthorised alterations and additions that were demolished, and hence BMC was justified in carrying out the demolition. He also said that the actor’s claim for 2-crore compensation could not be dealt with in the writ petition and hence the petition should be dismissed.

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