The Bombay high court on Thursday rejected an appeal filed by actor Sonu Sood who had sought a stay on the demolition notice issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on October 27, 2020 against the alleged structural changes he had made to the Shakti Sagar building in Juhu.
The actor had approached the high court after the city civil court at Dindoshi rejected his application in December last year.
The single-judge bench of justice Prithviraj Chavan had heard the actor’s application on January 13 wherein he had sought a restraint against the BMC from taking any action based on its October 27 notice and also sought a stay on the operation of the city civil court order.
On October 27 last year, BMC had issued a notice under Section 53 (1) of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act to Sood and his wife Sonali, directing them to restore the property as per the approved plan or get approval for the changes they had made to the structure within a month.
The actor had approached the city civil court seeking a stay on the BMC notice; however,on December 19 the civil court refused to grant him any relief and hence he moved the high court.
In their application before the high court, Sood and his wife informed the court through advocate DP Singh that they did not carry out any illegal or unauthorised construction in the six-storey Shakti Sagar building. The actor had submitted that the city civil court had failed to consider that the notice was issued by BMC as its illegal demands were not satisfied.
Advocate Amogh Singh, appearing for the actor, told the court that the BMC notice was vague as it did not mention the nature of the alleged alterations and the BMC official concerned had not responded to the actor’s reply to the notice and hence the BMC notice had malafide intent and was in contravention of the provisions of the MRTP Act.
However BMC refuted the allegations made by the actor and submitted that the actor and his wife were “habitual offenders”. An affidavit filed by the designated officer of the K-West ward through advocate Joel Carlos submitted, “It is stated that the appellants are habitual offenders and want to enjoy the commercial proceeds of their unauthorized work and therefore once again started reconstructing the demolished portion in order to make it operational as the hotel albeit illegally and without permission from the License Department.”
The affidavit added that as the hotel was being run without even the mandatory license under Section 394 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the prosecution was initiated by the Public Health Department, BMC.
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare, appearing for the BMC, argued that Sood had constructed hotel rooms under the pretext of “beautification” and approached the court with “unclean hands”. Sakhare submitted that Sood could be permitted to continue with the commercial activity of running a residential hotel and hence sought dismissal of his application.
After hearing the arguments, the bench refused to accept the request of Sood’s lawyer for 10 weeks’ time to comply with the BMC’s process as the relevant clearance from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While dismissing the application the court observed, “You (Sonu Sood) are too late. You’ve ample opportunity and law helps those who are diligent.”