27 Nov 2020: Bombay HC quashes BMC's demolition order for Kangana Ranaut's office
The Bombay High Court on Friday quashed an order issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) directing the demolition of alleged alterations made to actor Kangana Ranaut's office in Mumbai.
The court observed that the demolition was "actuated by malice."
Ranaut had alleged that the action of demolition was in retaliation to her comments against the Shiv Sena-ruled Maharashtra government.
Court proceedings: Demolition was unauthorized and sinister, said court
A bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla observed, "The manner in which demolition was carried out was unauthorized and sinister to prevent the petitioner from taking course to legal remedies," LiveLaw reported.
"The background of the case lends credence to the petitioner's case that the demolition action was malafide and premeditated to target her for her tweets and statements," the bench said.
Court proceedings: Irresponsible comments do not warrant malafide action by state: HC
The court noted that it disapproved of Ranaut's public statements, asking her to exercise caution.
The court, however, added that irresponsible statements by a citizen are best left ignored and do not warrant "malafide action" by the state.
The court also allowed Ranaut to make the building habitable. If reconstruction is required, she may proceed with the requisite permissions.
Quote: Victory of democracy: Ranaut celebrates court's observations
Reacting to the development, the actor tweeted saying, "When an individual stands against the government and wins, it's not the victory of the individual, but it's the victory of the democracy."
She added, "Thank you to everyone who gave me courage and thanks to those who laughed at my broken dreams. It's only 'cause you play a villain so I can be a HERO."
Background: BMC had claimed Ranaut carried out 'illegal constructions'
On September 7, the BMC had issued a 'stop-work' notice to Ranaut for alleged illegal constructions at her Bandra property. The notice was posted on the office the next day, seeking a reply with documentary evidence within 24 hours.
Ranaut, who was not present in Mumbai at the time, had accused the BMC of trespassing on her property and making false claims.
Demolition: BMC started demolition work on September 9
On the morning of September 9, the BMC started demolition work, alleging 14 unauthorized alterations and additions to the property contrary to the sanctioned building plan.
Ranaut had then moved the HC through advocate Rizwan Siddiquee against the action by the civic body. The court had stayed the demolition the same day, observing that the action of the BMC prima facie "smacks of malafide."
Arguments: Ranaut claimed all necessary permissions had been taken
The BMC—represented by senior advocate Aspi Chinoy—submitted in court that unauthorized "structural alternations" were made to the property and that Ranaut did not offer any explanation besides bland denial.
The actor—represented by senior advocate Dr. Birendra Saraf—claimed the action was a vindictive response to her. She said all necessary permissions had been taken and has sought Rs. 2 crore compensation from the BMC.