Demolition of Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow actuated by malafide: Bombay high court
In a strongly worded judgment, the Bombay high court on Friday struck down the September 9 order passed by a ward officer of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to demolish a part of actor Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow at Pali Hill in Bandra west.
The division bench of justice SJ Kathawalla and justice Riyaz Chagla held that the action of the civic body of demolishing about 40% of the bungalow was “actuated by malafide” and was in complete disregard of her rights.
The bench concluded that the civic action was a clear case of legal malice and was initiated after Ranaut’s infamous tweets, comparing Mumbai with Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
In this regard, the bench said irresponsible statements made by an individual should be ignored, howsoever distasteful those may be, and no action can be taken against such individual by resorting to colourable exercise of power and causing injury to that individual or his property by the State or any of its instrumentalities.
The high court has now appointed valuer Shetgiri and Associates to assess the damage caused by BMC while demolishing part of Ranaut’s bungalow and asked them to submit their report in three months.
The high court also allowed Ranaut to take steps to make the bungalow habitable again. But, she will have to approach BMC and seek permission, if any permission is required for reconstruction of the demolished portion.
Ranaut approached high court on September 9, hours after the BMC demolished a part of her bungalow in the upscale Pali Hill area.
Apart from seeking that the demolition be declared illegal, the actor also sought Rs 2 crore from the civic body towards damages, claiming that several valuable articles were damaged by the civic body during the course of the demolition.
She alleged that BMC carried out the demolition out of malice following her comments against the Mumbai Police which, according to her, irked the Shiv Sena leadership.
She had also cited an alleged threat against her by Shiv Sena’s chief spokesperson and member of Parliament Sanjay Raut in an interview.
BMC had denied the allegations of malice and of any personal vendetta against the actor.
The civic body maintained that Ranaut had brazenly and unlawfully carried out extensive additions and alterations to the bungalow, in breach of its approved building plan.
It said that after being served a stop work notice under Section 354 (A) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, the actor submitted a false and evasive reply, because of which it had to take the next step of issuing a demolition notice and carrying out the demolition work.
BMC countered Ranaut’s claim for damages saying she had not submitted any proof to show that any movable property or articles were damaged during the demolition.
“The petitioner’s claim for Rs2 crore compensation for movables/ articles allegedly damaged or destroyed during the demolition cannot be adjudicated in the present proceedings,” the BMC had said in its affidavit filed through advocate Joel Carlos.