Bombay High Court quashes BMC’s order of demolishing Kangana Ranaut's bungalow

“The State cannot take mala fide action against a citizen however distasteful her views are.”

November 27, 2020 12:01 pm | Updated 05:30 pm IST - Mumbai

Bollywood Actor Kangana Ranaut. File

Bollywood Actor Kangana Ranaut. File

The Bombay High Court on Friday quashed and set aside an order by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to demolish actor Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow, and held that she is entitled for compensation due to mala fide action in law by the civic body.

A Division Bench of Justices S.J. Kathawalla and R.I. Chagla said, “We have come to a clear conclusion that the notice (demolition) and the action of demolition following it, are actuated by malafides, involve a clear malice in law, causing a substantial injury to the Petitioner (Ms Ranaut), we would be perfectly justified, to order compensation against responsible authorities.”

In its 166-page judgment, the court noted, “BMC which is an organ of the State, has done something ‘without lawful excuse’; it has proceeded to act ‘wrongfully and willfully without reasonable or probable cause’; its act can only be described as a deliberate act in disregard of the rights of a citizen; the true object of the act clearly appears to be to reach an end different from the one for which the power was entrusted to it. The exercise of power can be summed up as bad in law and lacking in bonafides. It is nothing but malice in law.”

The court added, “What really aggravates the wrongfulness and lends further credence to the case of malice in law, is the manner in which the whole action was carried out as we have described above.”

The judgment reads, “The materials relied upon by BMC do not at all indicate that any works was being carried out at the bungalow at the time of issuance of the notice (demolition). Mere presence of some workmen or some construction debris is no evidence that the works referred to in the impugned notice were ongoing works.”

On the tweets

Commenting on the tweets made by Ms. Ranaut, the court said, “She should be better advised to exercise restraint when ‘as a public spirited person’, she ‘airs her views regarding issues of public importance on social media platforms…’”

Advising the State, the court said, “Irresponsible statements made by a citizen in an individual capacity, however distasteful or wrong they may be, are best ignored. Illegal and colourable action on part of the State or its agencies vis-à-vis a citizen, is far too serious and damaging to society to be overlooked.”

The Bench went to say, “Whatever be the folly of an individual, whether in the matter of unauthorized construction, or irresponsible statements hurting the sentiments of individuals or the public in general, no action against such individual by anyone, much less by the State, can lie except within the four corners of law. By no means, colourable exercise of power or resort to threats, use of muscle power and/or causing of injury by unlawful means to such person or to his/her property, can be permitted in any civil society. Such actions are the very antithesis of the rule of law.”

The court also made a remark on the Shiv Sena’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut and said, “Shri Raut without being bothered that the rule of law should always prevail, was determined to teach a lesson to the Petitioner. Such conduct certainly does not befit a leader like Shri Raut who is also a Parliamentarian.”

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