The Bombay High Court on Tuesday questioned Shiv Sena chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut for using abusive language against actor Kangana Ranaut, NDTV reported.

Ranaut had sparked a row after she 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. Shiv Sena leader Raut had hit back at Ranaut and asked her not to return to Mumbai after her comments on security in the state.

On Tuesday, the division bench said that it does not also agree with Ranaut’s Pakistan-occupied Kashmir comments but asked if the use of foul language was a way to address the matter. “We are proud of being Maharashtrians... but is this the way to react?” the bench asked. “You have to show grace. You cannot use such language.”

Raut’s lawyer replied that the comment could have been avoided. The lawyer also submitted an affidavit claiming that Raut did not threaten the actor the way the petition had described the matter. The court noted that Raut was now accepting he spoke about Ranaut. The Shiv Sena leader’s lawyer had in an earlier hearing contended that Raut did not speak about Ranaut at all.

Yesterday an audio recording of Raut’s comment was played in the court.

The High Court was hearing a writ petition filed by Ranaut over the demolition of her property in Bandra by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the civic body of Great Mumbai.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Anil Sakhare, representing BMC’s H Ward officer Bhagyawant Late, also a party in the case, addressed allegations against the civic body that the BMC had visited Ranaut’s bungalow after her “Pakistan-occupied” tweet, Live Law reported.

“The petitioner has lied,” Sakhare said. “Her first tweet on September 5 as of 5.12 pm. However, my officer has visited the site at 1 pm, four hours prior to the tweet.”

He said that malafide allegations were easy to make but difficult to prove, adding that Ranaut has failed to prove her allegations.

The petitioner has miserably failed in proving either. The forum for arguing malice in fact is different. Party alleging malice, in fact, has to set up evidence, enter a witness box, the party should have the opportunity to cross-examine, lead oral evidence, then a civil court can adjudicate whether there is malice in fact or not. The remedy of a civil suit is appropriate where allegations of malice in fact are argued. Article 226 petition need not be entertained.

— Anil Sakhare

Sakhare contended the actor was making serious allegations against the ruling government and the civic body without any fact or proof and expecting the court to believe to rely on her tweets. “This is so unreasonable,” he added.

The court asked Sakhare what was he doing before September 5 and asked him if Late did not see the work going on at Ranaut’s property before that. The lawyer replied that Late’s office noticed the work on September 5.

“We have to be very gullible to accept all this”, the court said.

The matter was adjourned for hearing to October 5. All parties have been asked to place their written submissions on record.

The case

On Monday, the BMC told the High Court that Ranaut had made illegal changes to her Bandra bungalow, which was partly demolished on September 9, and was claiming that it was done because of her statements against the Maharashtra government

The Bombay High Court had on Friday asked how the ground floor of the structure was demolished, even though there were no alterations made to it as per the inspection report of the BMC. It also asked the BMC why it did not proceed against Ranaut under provisions of the law that would have required it to provide the actor sufficient time to respond to the charges against her.

On Thursday, the court asked Raut to respond to Ranaut’s plea against the demolition. The bench also directed the 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.

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 court had already stayed the demolition.