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HC asks Maha to examine if BJP made alterations to structure

The Bombay High Court today asked Maharashtra government to “come clean” and examine whether Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has carried out any alterations in the structure allotted to it in South Mumbai in 1978 by the then government.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and A P Bhangale was hearing petitions filed by three residents association seeking action against “illegal” structures constructed by the political parties, including BJP, inside and near Nehru Garden and other illegal shanties that have sprung up there.

The building currently houses the state headquarter of BJP.

In August 2013, the HC had restrained BJP and other political parties which have their offices there not to carry out any renovation work.

However, the petitioners’ advocate told the court that despite the stay, BJP had carried out construction in their office premises last year.

The court had last month directed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to conduct an inspection of the premises and submit a report.

Though the civic body today submitted the report, it did not specify whether the construction was legal or otherwise.

Senior counsel E P Bharucha, appearing for BMC, told the court that the civic body did not have the sanction plan of the area and hence cannot comment on the legality of the construction.

Government lawyer Niranjan Pandit said the structure was allotted to BJP in 1978. “The allotment was prior to the Development Plan (DP) of 1981 and hence no permission was required for construction,” he said.

The court, however, asked if any further construction was carried out by the political party and if yes then was the permission obtained from the planning authority.

“Is it not necessary for the government to come clean to the court and say clearly whether permission to carry out construction was given or not? Does the government have any records of dimensions of the structure when it was allotted to BJP? It needs to be seen if there is any variation in the structure,” Justice Oka said.

The petitioners’ lawyer Mustafa Doctor told the court that when the structure was allotted it was 2686 sq ft and now its area is 9500 sq ft.

The court directed the government to examine if there has been any variations and any changes were made in the structure after allotment. The government will have to file an affidavit within four weeks.

The matter will be heard on June 25.

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