Mumbai lawyer: BMC did not fully demolish illegal structure despite court directive

Apr 01, 2016, 19:03 IST | Tanvi Deshpande

Advocate who runs a guesthouse in a building at Colaba, next to which the structure came up, says the place it is constructed on is also rented to him

An advocate has alleged that the BMC still hasn’t fully demolished an illegal structure in Colaba despite a court directive. The ground-plus-one structure is located in the premises of a building where advocate N S Mulchandani has rented the ground floor. The BMC had demolished a portion of the structure after court orders but it has come up once again.

The structure that was partially demolished by the BMC as claimed by advocate N S Mulchandani
The structure that was partially demolished by the BMC as claimed by advocate N S Mulchandani

Mulchandani is one of the tenants of Abbas building owned by the Taj hotel group (the original owner was R E Rampurwala). The building is located behind Hotel Taj Mahal where Mulchandani runs a guesthouse on the ground floor by the name Jones Guest House. There was no one available at the Taj hotel group for comment.

According to the advocate, his family has been running the guesthouse for decades and the open space behind the building is also rented to the family. The family had allowed their servant Vasudev Valmiki to reside in a makeshift structure on this space but after his death, the structure was allegedly usurped by his relative. It was then that Mulchandani asked her to vacate the space. While vacating, Mulchandani claims, she sold the space to businessman I B Singh illegally for R6 lakh. He claims that he approached the police in the matter but only an NC (non-cognizable offence) was filed citing it as a civil case. Meanwhile, Mulchandani approached the BMC in the matter, which issued a notice to Singh for carrying out construction without permission. This, because Singh demolished the structure and constructed a ground-plus-one structure there without permission. Singh had even pleaded that he be allowed to retain the ground floor of the structure.

The BMC’s A ward office issued a notice to Singh under section 354-A on May 12, 2014. Singh challenged the notice in the City Civil Court, which was rejected. He further approached the Bombay High Court, challenging the BMC order. The HC, in an order dated March 15, 2016 said, “The Appellant (Singh) has not taken any permission whatsoever for reconstruction of the property. Having violated the law, the Appellant cannot now be heard to say that he may be permitted to retain the structure or retain the ground floor of it. In view of the earlier order passed, the Appellant will have to abide by the notice given by Municipal Corporation which calls upon the Appellant to pull down the structure mentioned in the notice, failing which it will be removed by the municipal corporation.” It further goes on to say that no relief can be granted to Singh.

“On March 16, BMC officials came and demolished a part of the structure. But about 30% still remained. The officials assured me that they would come back the next day for completing work but they did not turn up. It has been more than 15 days now. I even wrote to them on March 29 about this but haven’t got a reply,” Mulchandani told mid-day. He claims that meanwhile, Singh has erected another structure in place, amounting to contempt of court.

When contacted Singh said, “I accept the Bombay High Court order. But Mulchandani has an axe to grind against me. He runs an illegal business in the building and because I complained to the police against him, he filed all these complaints against me. He has no claim to the property whatsoever.”

Official speak
When mid-day asked him about Mulchandani’s allegation about the structure, K Y Dhotre, assistant engineer (Building and Factory) of A ward said, “It is not true that the structure was only partially demolished. It was fully demolished.” When informed about the structure that has come up in its place, he said it is the owner’s responsibility to protect the space and make sure no new structure comes up.

To this Mulchandani said that the officials have made a false report that the demolition was completed when it wasn’t.

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