Hitting out once again at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut slammed the civic body for spending public money on a lawyer to fight the demolition case of her Mumbai office.
The ‘Queen’ actor shared a report by Maharashtra Times which claimed that BMC paid a whopping amount of Rs 82 lakh as honorarium to advocate Aspi Chinai to represent in court.
The fee came to light after RTI activist Sharad Yadav asked the BMC about the expenses. In a reply, the corporation stated paying Rs 22.5 lakh till September 22, and Rs 60 lakh till October 7.
Kangana wrote on Twitter, “Municipal Corporation so far spent 82 lakhs on lawyer for illegally demolition of my house, papa’s Pappu spending public money to tease a girl, this is where Maharashtra stands today, very unfortunate.”
Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court on Monday closed all arguments and reserved its verdict on the petition filed by Ranaut against the demolition.
The BMC in a written submission to the court denied allegations of malice and personal vendetta, and said Ranaut's claim of Rs 2 crore as damages from the BMC for partial demolition of her bungalow cannot not be "entertained".
It said after being served a stop work notice, Ranaut submitted a "false and evasive reply" denying that any illegal construction work was going on at the site.
A bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and R I Chagla conducted hearings on the plea last week.
The court accepted written submissions from counsels of Ranaut and the BMC summing up their arguments before closing the matter for orders.
Ranaut approached the high court September 9 after the demolition of a part of her bungalow in Pali Hill area here by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
She had sought that the demolition be declared illegal and the court direct BMC to pay her Rs 2 crore as damages.
In its written submission to the HC, the BMC said it was disputing the actor's claims of several movable property and articles having been damaged during such demolition.
There was no proof that any movable property or articles were damaged during the demolition carried out at Ranaut's bungalow. Therefore, paying any compensation for the same was not warranted, it said.
"The petitioner's claim for Rs 2 crore compensation for movables/ articles allegedly damaged or destroyed during the demolition cannot be adjudicated in the present proceedings," the BMC said.
"The fact that such movables were in fact destroyed during the demolition has been denied and is disputed. The alleged value of such movables is also disputed," it said.
"It is respectfully submitted that in the absence of proper proof, such allegations and claims for compensation for loss allegedly caused cannot be entertained," the BMC said in the submission filed through its counsels Joel Carlos, Anil Sakhre and Aspi Chinoy.
It reiterated that Ranaut had "brazenly and unlawfully" carried out extensive alterations and additions to the bungalow in breach of its approved building plan.
The BMC said after being served a stop work notice under section 354 (A) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, Ranaut submitted a "false and evasive reply" denying that any illegal construction work was ongoing at the site.
It is because of such false reply that the BMC had to take the next step of issuing a demolition notice and carrying out the demolition work, the civic body said.
Both the BMC, and its H-ward officer Bhagyawant Late, who is also a party in the case, submitted that the civic body and its officials had been performing their statutory duty in carrying out the demolition work.
They denied all allegations of malice and personal vendetta that Ranaut had made in her plea.
Ranaut, through her counsel Dr Birendra Saraf, had alleged that the BMC carried out the demolition out of malice following a comment she made against the Mumbai Police that irked the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra.
She had also cited an alleged threat given to her by Shiv Sena's chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut in an interview.
Saraf told the HC during previous hearings that the demolition was carried out on September 9, the same day as the interview.
The BMC's counsels, had, however, denied the actor's allegations.
They said the BMC had simply been performing its statutory duty in demolishing such portions of the bungalow that Ranaut had altered illegally.
In an affidavit filed through Carlos, the civic body alleged that despite making illegal structural changes, Ranaut had approached court for relief.
This was an abuse of the process of law, the BMC said and urged the HC to dismiss her plea and impose a cost on her.
Raut also told the court through his counsel Pradeep Thorat that the BMC's action had nothing to do with his interview or any other comments made on Ranaut.
During the previous hearings, the bench questioned the BMC's swiftness in demolishing Ranaut's property.
It also stayed the demolition through an interim order and noted that had the BMC shown similar swiftness in all cases of illegal construction, Mumbai would have been a very different city.
The court had also asked Raut if it befitted a parliamentarian to use ungraceful language against a citizen? "Don't you have any grace?" the HC asked after viewing a clip of the interview where Raut asked "what is law," responding to a question on if he would take legal action against Ranaut for having compared Mumbai to PoK in a tweet.
With PTI inputs