HC directs BMC to decide on Amitabh Bachchan’s representation over Juhu land acquisition; no coercive action till then.

The Bombay High Court Wednesday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) not to take any coercive action against actors Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan in a plea related to the acquisition of a part of the land on which their bungalow in Juhu existed for widening the road in the area.

The high court asked BMC to consider the representation made by Bachchans on February 17 within six weeks, and said if required by the Commissioner or the parties to the case, personal hearings can be granted. It also asked the civic body not to take any coercive action against them till three weeks after their representation is decided by the BMC.

The court granted the petitioners two weeks in case they wanted to file an additional representation and said the BMC commissioner’s decision has to be made in six weeks thereafter. It said the petitioners can then take action within three weeks from the commissioner’s decision. It disposed of the plea and said no coercive steps will be taken against the Bachchans in the case till then. The BMC on May 22 last year sent a letter to the Mumbai suburban district collector asking him to undertake “appropriate action on measurement and demarcation” of the Sant Dnyaneshwar Marg, on which the actors’ bungalow Prateeksha is located. “If this road is widened, it will help ease the traffic congestion there and provide relief to the people,” the BMC letter said. A division bench of Justice R D Dhanuka and Justice S M Modak was hearing the plea by Bachchans, who said BMC issued two notices to them in April 2017, stating that certain portions of the plots near their bungalow fall within the regular line of the street and the civic body intended to take possession of that land along with wall and structures. In the plea, the Bachchans said they appointed their representatives to attend to the BMC office, who told its officials that it will be convenient and easier for the civic body to widen the street on the opposite side of the plots in question. As no action was taken for the period of over four years, the petitioners assumed the notices issued were dropped and therefore no formal objection was conveyed to the authority. Last month, BMC officials orally informed the petitioners that they propose to implement the notices issued earlier and would be taking possession of the portion of the plots needed for road widening.

The plea sought to quash and set aside the notices issued by BMC and said that the building structures on the said plot cannot be demolished as per the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act. The Bachchans claimed the notices issued are inconsistent with safeguards under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and it must be set aside. The plea added the notices were not issued to other holders of the plots on the same side of the road, showing “disparity in action” and no action was taken for widening the road. It also sought a perpetual injunction against BMC restraining it from enforcing the notices or taking any action through its officials. Senior Advocate Anil Sakhare and advocate Rohan Mirpury for BMC said that the Commissioner will consider the representations, after which the court disposed of the plea.

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