The Bombay High Court ordered the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation
(BMC) to demolish the illegal portions of Union Minister Narayan Rane's Juhu bungalow within two weeks, stating that if the proposed regularisation is approved, it will encourage widespread unlicensed construction in the city. This is a significant setback for Mr. Rane.
On Tuesday, a division bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and Kamal Khata also fined Rane and his family's business, Kaalkaa Real Estate Private Limited, Rs. 10 lakh. This fine is to be submitted to the Maharashtra Legal Service Authority. "The proposed retention/regularization of unauthorised work, if accepted, will amount to the encouragement of the widespread/large-scale violation of provisions of law and invite wrongdoer to carry out any extent of unauthorised construction in the city of Mumbai without any fear of penal action," the High Court said in dismissing the petition from Kaalkaa.
The second application, made by Kaalkaa before the BMC on July 11, 2022, asking for permission to keep the unauthorised construction, has likewise been denied by the court. Kaalkaa has gone to the HC to ask for guidance on how the BMC should handle its second application, which was submitted on July 11, 2022, to keep the unapproved portions.
Kaalkaa's initial request for regularisation had been denied by the local authority on June 3, and the HC upheld that decision on June 23. The court expressed "astonishment" at BMC's position that there is no limit on the number of petitions for regularisation regardless of the number of unauthorised buildings and violations of regulations. If this argument is adopted, judges stated that "the Municipal Corporation would tolerate development on every inch of land in Mumbai City, even if it violated the sanction plan and other mandatory legal rules."
The BMC had vehemently opposed Kaalkaa's first petition for regularisation and, "for reasons best known to Corporation," it had taken a "totally contrary stand and a total U-turn" when dealing with the second petition. The HC noted the BMC's changed position in the case and stated that it was determined to consider the untenable application for regularisation/retention even though it was not legally maintainable.
"The Corporation cannot be allowed to take such an inconsistent posture and more notably since the earlier order has been confirmed by this Court," the HC observed, disagreeing with the BMC's change of stance. The court ruled that this was "completely illegal" and went against a 2010 High Court decision that established rules for who has the right to grant or deny authorization to regularise unlawful constructions. The justices also turned down Kaalkaa's attorney Shardul Singh's request to extend the earlier temporary halt on demolition for another six weeks so that they could file a case with the Supreme Court.