Bombay high court asks Maharashtra to remove seal of Cambata building
The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday directed the Maharashtra government to “remove the seal and attachment” imposed upon the Cambata building that houses Eros theatre near Churchgate. The HC is likely to take up the matter for further hearing after four weeks.
The building was sealed by the city collector’s office on Wednesday, following litigation in the labour court over pending dues.
The city collector’s office is seeking to recover labour dues amounting to Rs4.45 crore from Cambata Aviation Private Limited, the former ground handlers at the Mumbai airport.
However, a division bench comprising justice Shantanu K hemkar and PD Naik held on Thursday while the state had a right to recover its dues, it must not, in the process, force other tenants or occupants out of the building.
The directions came while the bench was hearing two separate pleas, filed by the Eros Theatre management, and the Cambata Trust. The latter is the landlord of the building and has sublet the various units/office spaces in the building to the Eros film theatre, Eros’ gymnasium, and a restaurant, to various offices, a bank, an ATM, a chemist shop, and a gift shop.
Eros in its plea argued it was merely a tenant and had no role to play in the ongoing dispute between Cambata Aviation and its employees. It also argued the collector’s office acted in an “arbitrary and high handed manner,” adding the authorities came at a time when a movie show was on at the theatre and began forcing members of the audience out.
At this, the bench questioned the collector office’s conduct and said, “What is this manner of forcing people out of the theatre in the middle of a show? Will you also start throwing people out of restaurants? We are of the view that prima facie the submission that the authorities acted arbitrarily and in a high-handed manner, seems to have some basis.”
Cambata Trust, meanwhile, argued it was not warned of the sealing action in advance and that on January 18, it received phone calls from tenants informing the collector and the staff of the state abour Dues and Recovery department had evicted them and sealed the premises.
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