Mumbai: Directing the demolition of eight illegal floors, the Bombay High Court observed that the case is yet another that depicts the sorry state of affairs in the City of Mumbai, where the unauthorised eight floors were added to the existing four-story building.
Justice Sandeep Marne, on October 19, ordered the demolition of the upper eight floors of 'Economic House,' also known as 'Amin' and 'Maa Rahima Mansion' in Chinchbunder, South Mumbai. This decision came while dismissing the plea filed by Hanifa Ibrahim Sindhwa, who claimed ownership of the building.
Stay orders misused, says court
The court noted that the extra floors were added to the existing four-story building by misusing stay orders. Apart from ordering the demolition of the additional floors, the HC also directed Sindhwa to pay Rs 10 lakh to the BMC as exemplary costs.
Sindhwa had challenged the February 2022 order of the city civil court, which refused to grant any relief.
According to the plea, the building was constructed in 1930 and was owned by previous owners who sold and transferred their rights, title, and interest in the building to Sindhwa through an Affidavit-cum-declaration on January 31, 2013. Sindhwa claimed that the building had undergone several repairs in the past.
The BMC counsel informed the HC that the civic body had demolished the unauthorized construction built over the fourth floor.
Although the city civil court did not rule in Sindhwa’s favor, it stayed the order for two weeks in February 2022 and restrained the BMC from taking any action to allow Sindhwa to file an appeal. Pending the hearing of the appeal, the HC continued the stay.
"The owners/occupants of the building 'Economic House' have misused the interim orders passed by the City Civil Court and this Court by brazenly adding as many as eight floors to the existing structure," noted the court in a detailed order.
In 2015, the owner sought to undertake tenantable repairs, which do not require permission from BMC. However, under the guise of carrying out tenantable repairs, Sindhwa carried out unauthorized construction, adding eight floors to the building, the judge remarked.
"In such circumstances, far from granting any relief, the iron hand of the law must reach him with full force," Justice Marne said, adding that the demolition costs should also be recovered from Sindhwa.
"Therefore, while dismissing the present appeal and directing the demolition of the entire unauthorized structure, this Court will not shy away from imposing exemplary costs on the plaintiff and directing strict action to be taken against him," the court concluded.
The court rejected Sindhwa’s request to stay the order for six weeks.