HC terms BMC action ‘illegal’, asks Kangana to ‘exercise restraint’
A division bench of the Bombay high court, on Friday, struck down a September 9 order issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to demolish several unauthorised alterations made by actor Kangana Ranaut at her Pali Hill bungalow in Bandra (West).
The bench of justices SJ Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla held that the civic action was “actuated by malafides” and accepted the actor’s claim seeking compensation for damage caused by the illegal action. The bench said that the actor is justified in claiming damages in view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the Sunbeam Hightech Developers case, where the court held that it can award compensation where demolition was carried out illegally, even if the structure was unauthorized.
In the 166-page judgment, the high court bench said that it does not approve unauthorized construction, and also does not approve of loose and irresponsible statements (as made by Ranaut) against any individual, authority or Government.
“We do not accept as true any of the statements or allegations made by the petitioner (Ranaut) through her tweets with regard to the prevailing atmosphere in the state or the state police or against the film industry,” the bench clarified.
“If anything, we are of the view that the petitioner should be better advised to exercise restraint when “as a public spirited person”, she “airs her views regarding issues of public importance on social media platforms ….,” the bench added.
But the court insisted that “irresponsible statements made by a citizen in an individual capacity, however distasteful or wrong they may be, are best ignored.”
It, therefore, refused to tolerate high handed action by authorities. “Whatever be the folly of an individual, whether in the matter of unauthorized construction, or irresponsible statements hurting sentiments of individuals or public in general, no action against such individual by anyone, much less by the state, can lie except within the four corners of law,” it warned.
The bench also criticised Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut for his response to the actor’s tweets and also disapproved his choice of language about her. “Such conduct certainly does not befit a leader like Shri Raut, who is also a Parliamentarian.”
Reacting to the court order, Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar said they respect the court and would study the order before deciding on challenging it in the Supreme Court.
“We believe in the Constitution and we respect the order of Bombay High Court. We have our legal department, which will study the entire issue once order is served by the court. It is only after this, we will take a decision on the same,” he said.
Reacting to the judgment, Ranaut tweeted, “When individual stands against the government and wins, it’s not the victory of the individual but it’s the victory of the democracy...”
Her counsel, advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, said, “This judgment has once again reinstated faith in the judiciary by proving that the citizens rights are fully protected in a democracy...”