The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked Shiv Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut to file his reply to actor Kangana Ranaut’s petition against the demolition of a part of her bungalow in Mumbai, on the orders of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, PTI reported. The bench also directed the BMC’s H-ward officer Bhagyawant Late to file his reply to the petition.
Late had signed the demolition notice served to Ranaut on September 7. On the other hand, on September 22, Ranaut’s lawyer Birendra Saraf submitted in court a DVD containing a speech in which Raut allegedly threatened Ranaut. The bench comprising Justices SJ Kathawalla and RI Chagla then allowed Ranaut to make both Late and Raut parties to the case.
The bench said it will begin hearing Ranaut’s arguments on Friday. However, the counsels for both Late and Raut requested the court to grant them more time to file replies. In response, the court said that Raut could file his reply any time before his turn to put forth his arguments in the court. However, it directed the BMC to file the reply on Late’s behalf by Monday.
Meanwhile, the court said that the actor’s house cannot be kept in a half-demolished state in the monsoon season. “We cannot leave the demolished house the way it is,” the bench said. “The building is demolished partly, and in the heavy monsoon, we cannot leave it in this state. We will start hearing the petitioner tomorrow.”
Ranaut, in her plea filed on September 9, had sought to get the demolition of the bungalow declared illegal. She claimed that her bungalow had been demolished by the BMC due to personal vendetta, as she had made some critical remarks against the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government. She subsequently amended her plea to seek Rs 2 crore in damages from the BMC.
On September 18, the BMC asked the Bombay High Court to dismiss Ranaut’s plea seeking damages. The municipal body called Ranaut’s plea an “abuse of the process of law”.
The High Court had on September 9 stayed the demolition of the actor’s property in Mumbai’s Bandra area and directed the BMC to file its response in the case the next day. The civic body had demolished a part of Ranaut’s bungalow on Pali Hill claiming that she had made substantial structural alterations without due permission. Ranaut moved the High Court on the same day.
The actor is in the middle of an escalating row with the Maharashtra government. The controversy began after Ranaut claimed that Mumbai felt like Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and that she feared living in the city. She had also criticised the Mumbai Police for its handling of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. Sanjay Raut had hit back at Ranaut and asked her not to return to Mumbai after her comments on security in the state.