Mumbai: BMC chief Ajoy Mehta hauled up over Parle structure

Mehul and Binita Vora
Mehul and Binita Vora

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has been issued a show-cause notice by the Bombay High Court for regularising a structure belonging to a Congress corporator's husband, even though the court had specifically asked the municipal corporation to demolish the illegal construction in question, which is a shop in the corporator's bungalow.

Action against corporator
A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and Amjad Sayed was hearing a petition filed against Mehul Vora, husband of Binita Vora, a Congress corporator from Vile Parle, by Shiv Sena member Jitendra Janawale, whose wife lost to Vora in the K-West ward, Santacruz, in the 2012 civic polls, seeking action against the corporator and her husband for the structure.

Shiv Sena member Jitendra Janawale claims Mehul Vora constructed this shop by tearing down a compound wall. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Shiv Sena member Jitendra Janawale claims Mehul Vora constructed this shop by tearing down a compound wall. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

The bench issued the order upon being informed by the petitioner's counsel that instead of following HC's June order of demolishing the construction, the civic body had regularised it.

Janawale claimed that Mehul constructed the illegal shop by demolishing the compound wall. Accordingly, on June 17, HC had directed the BMC to demolish the construction and also file a case in the small causes court against Binita for disqualification under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act and file a report in six weeks from that day.

Followed second order
While the BMC followed the second order of the court and started a disqualification process against Binita by getting a majority approval in the House of corporators, and later, filed a case in the small causes court for illegal construction, it did not follow the court's first order — that of demolishing the illegal shop and reporting the same to HC on August 1. A day before, on July 31, the BMC ended up legalising it instead by asking Mehul to pay a fine. It, however, didn't specify the amount.

Defending the move in an affidavit, the executive engineer of the Building Proposal department of the K-West ward told the court that as the shop was legalised, there was no need to demolish it.

When Sagar Rane, Janawale's counsel, pointed this out, Justice Oka said, "We are issuing a show-cause notice to the civic body commissioner asking him why criminal and civil contempt action should not be initiated against him for failure to comply with court orders." The court then issued the show-cause notice against Mehta, who has to reply to the orders by November 18.

BMC says
Reacting to the notice, Ajoy Mehta's office said, "The high court has asked the municipal commissioner why action should not be initiated against him for committing civil  and criminal contempt of court. The court has not held the commissioner guilty and has sought an explanation on the issue." The BMC will submit its explanation in the next hearing.

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