HC imposes ₹1-L fine each, on 3 disobedient BMC officialsUpdated: Dec 15, 2019 20:22 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) has fined three civic officials ₹1 lakh each, for being in contempt of a 2017 order of the HC, to demolish a structure at Sion Koliwada. The court took cognisance of the fact that the officials had not only disobeyed the HC order but had also wrongly cited a Supreme Court (SC) order for not demolishing the ground floor which was occupied by 13 tenants while the rest of the building was razed.
A division bench of justices SJ Kathawalla and BP Colabawalla, while hearing a contempt petition filed by tenants of the Sion Koliwada property against three civic officials, was informed that the HC had permitted demolition of the C-1 category dilapidated building in 2017. The tenants submitted that some shopkeepers occupying the ground floor had filed a review petition in the HC, challenging the demolition order but it was rejected. The shopkeepers filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court but they did not get any relief there either.
Advocate Suryajeet Chavan for the petitioners submitted that while the upper floors were demolished, the ground floor remained intact. This was at the behest of three civic officials from the building department who issued a letter to the ground-floor tenants stating that they were allowed to continue doing business as the SC had directed them to approach Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for permission to continue using the property till the issuance of an intimation of disapproval (IOD).
Chavan submitted that the SC had not issued such directions but the three officials had, in gross violation of the HC order, permitted the shops to do business and had also misconstrued the SC order to help the shopkeepers. Hence, contempt proceedings should be initiated against the officials.
After hearing the submissions by Chavan, senior advocate Anil Sakhare appearing for the BMC and the three officials submitted that the officials were remorseful of their contumacious conduct and were willing to pay a fine for their contemptuous act.
After the 13 shopkeepers, through advocate S S Kanetkar, undertook to vacate the premise within a week, the bench directed the officers to pay a fine of ₹1 lakh each, which is to be handed over to Tata Memorial Hospital before December 19. In light of the fine and the unconditional apology tendered by the officials, the bench disposed of the contempt petition and directed the BMC to demolish the ground floor.