Maha minister denies allegations of shielding unauthorised eatery
Mumbai: Maharashtra Minister Ranjit Patil on Tuesday refuted before the Bombay High Court the allegations that he misused his official powers to protect an unauthorised eatery in the city.
Patil on Tuesday filed an affidavit in response to a public interest litigation by activist Pravin Wategaonkar who had alleged that the minister had stayed the demolition of illegal portions of a food court in suburban Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) even though the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act did not have any provision for it.
Patil, who is minister of state for home and urban development, said the director of the company 'Spice and Grains Overseas Ltd', which runs the eatery in question, had misrepresented the facts in the matter and procured an endorsement of stay on demolition of the illegal construction. He claimed that his "stay remark was never communicated or implemented at any point of time".
"One of the directors of Spice and Grains Overseas had come to my office on August 9 or 10, 2016. The director of the company presented an application for stay in an appeal filed by the company and also sought stay on a notice dated May 26, 2016," the affidavit said.
The affidavit added that the director had stated that the company had submitted an application seeking requisite permission for temporary construction in a place of sit-out.
The director said the MMRDA, without considering the said application straight away, issued a notice directing the company to demolish the construction, Patil said in the affidavit. "The director who appeared before me further urged that he was apprehending demolition of the temporary construction work even before his application seeking permission for such temporary sit-out was decided," it said.
The minister added that after hearing the plea, he "genuinely believed that it was necessary to decide the company's application seeking permission for temporary sit out before issuing notice for demolition. Hence I put an endorsement calling for report from the department and stayed the demolition notice."
The affidavit added it was later found out by the Secretary of Urban Development Department that no appeal was filed by the company and hence no stay can be granted.
"Later when the matter was placed before me, I agreed that the secretary need not act upon the endorsement of stay," Patil said, adding, after that a meeting was to be held but could not due to unavoidable circumstances.
"The stay remark was never communicated or implemented at any point of time. The proceeding was pending before MMRDA for appropriate action and my remark of stay had no bearing on the same," the affidavit said.
The minister alleged that the petitioner is trying to malign his reputation and assassinate his character by making false and frivolous allegations. A division bench headed by Justice B R Gavai will hear the matter on October 3. According to the petition, MMRDA had leased the space in BKC to the company for a food court.
The development authority, however, found that the company had carried out unauthorised construction in the area and in May last year, it issued a demolition notice to the company. Though the company agreed to carry out the demolition work on its own at the time, in August 2016, it approached Patil requesting that the demolition order be stayed and Patil granted the stay immediately, the plea claimed.