The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging the appointment of senior advocate Aspi Chinoy and the “hefty fee” paid to him by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in actor Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow demolition case, reported Live Law.
A bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale observed that it wasn’t within the court’s purview to decide on the appointment of advocates and the money paid to them. “What fee should be charged by senior advocates and advocates on record, cannot be decided by the court,” Justice Shinde said.
The court also refused to revoke Chinoy’s designation as a senior counsel and said, “We don’t understand why such petitions are filed and the intentions behind it.”
In September, the BMC had begun demolishing Ranaut’s office inside her bungalow located in Mumbai’s Pali Hill area. The High Court had stayed the demolition. After this, the BMC had appointed Chinoy to represent the civic body.
The petitioner, activist Sharad Yadav, had challenged the BMC’s decision to appoint Chinoy and for paying him Rs 82.5 lakh for the case.
Yadav pointed out that the High Court did not even grant relief to the civic body. “Suppose you are engaged by the BMC, you tell them your fee, appear in the case and do your best but the court passes an order against the civic body, can you be held responsible,” Justice Shinde asked.
The petitioner sought registration of a first information report and a Central Bureau of Investigation-led inquiry into the matter.
Senior Advocate Anil Sakhare, representing the BMC, told the High Court that the appointment of a counsel was the decision of the department. Sakhare said that the civic body was ordered to pay reconstruction costs for an allegedly illegal demolition earlier, which is why a senior counsel was appointed.
The court observed that it was not sitting in advisory jurisdiction and told Yadav that he could always approach the BMC seeking a cap on the payment made to its counsels.