Observing that it was not a case of political vendetta, the Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed the petition filed by Union Minister Narayan Rane challenging the demolition order passed by the BMC against his alleged unauthorised structures at his Adish Bungalow in suburban Juhu.
A division bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and MG Sewlikar dismissed the plea filed by Kaalkaa Real Estates Ltd, a company owned by Rane, saying that the same was “devoid of merits and deserved to be dismissed”.
The court has, however, extended the protection from “coercive action” against the minister’s bungalow by six weeks to enable him to approach the Supreme Court.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Rane challenging the June 3 order passed by the BMC, rejecting his application for retention of the alleged unauthorised structure stating that it was in breach of municipal and coast zone norms. Rane had alleged that the regularisation application was rejected because of the political rivalry between him and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
BMC counsels – Aspi Chenoy and Joel Carlos – argued that Rane had made changes to open areas and converted them into usable, closed structures.
Chenoy denied the allegations and any foul play saying that the BMC had acted in accordance with the law. “You (Rane) shouldn’t be hounded. But you shouldn’t get a special privilege to violate the law either just because you are a politician,” said Chenoy.
In 2013, the occupation certificate was granted to the bungalow which was constructed over an area of 745 sq mt. The existing structure has stretched the floor space index (FSI) limits to three times of what had initially been approved, argued Chenoy.
The FSI is the maximum permissible floor area that can be built on a particular plot or /piece of land. If the FSI permissible is 1.0, then only 1,000 sqft of construction can be done on a plot measuring 1,000 sqft.
Chenoy argued: “The total plot area is 2,209 square metre. Mr Rane has a lease for 1,187 sq mt. He was given FSI for 745 sq mt and he sought permission to build a property of that size. However, the FSI used up today is 2,249 instead of 745.”
Milind Sathe and Amogh Singh, Rane’s counsels, however, argued that the minister held the lease for 1,187 sq mt of the plot and hence had a right to claim extra FSI.
Sathe argued: “This (rejection) is complete nonsense. The BMC officer who rejected the retention and regularisation application did so because his brief from the higher ups was to reject owing to political vendetta, particularly because of my client’s (Rane) tiff with the chief minister,” argued Sathe.
The court noted that the civic body was right in not regularising Rane’s additional construction and changes made at the bungalow as he had already used up all the FSI granted to him at the time of approval of his sanction plan.
The HC said: “Since the construction is totally unauthorised, a question of political rivalry between the Shiv Sena (headed by Uddhav Thackeray) and any other party being behind the BMC notices does not arise.”