The Bombay High Court ticked off the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) for its “high-handedness” in “illegally” demolishing a lifeguard work-station at the suburban Juhu beach and directed the civic chief to initiate an inquiry against the errant officers.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and A A Sayed asked MCGM Commissioner to set up the enquiry, which should be conducted by an officer of the rank of Additional Municipal Commissioner, to ascertain who was the officer or officers who is/are responsible for ordering the demolition of the said structure.
The order was passed by the bench while hearing a petition filed by the ‘Juhu Beach Lifeguards Association’ challenging the civic body’s “arbitrary” action of pulling down the work-station.
The structure was set up by the association in 2010 after taking the requisite permission from the MCGM. The petitioner claimed that the civic body illegally demolished the base station of lifeguards in March this year.
According to MCGM, the direction to raze the structure was given on receipt of several complaints from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) which is the owner of the land in question, and from a local MLA. The civic body, however, could not submit any document to support its argument.
“The corporation has not followed due process of law before demolishing the structures. It has shown high-handedness and is a wrong-doer. The civic body has taken law in its own hands,” the HC observed.
The HC directed that the inquiry shall also contain the decision on reimbursement of the damages caused to equipment of the lifeguards and also asked MCGM to submit the inquiry report before it within a month.
“After holding such inquiry the officer appointed will have to record clear findings naming the officer responsible for such illegal action. A report in this regard should be submitted (within) a month from today,” Justice Oka said.
The association has sought reimbursement of Rs. 66 lakh from the corporation to repurchase the equipment damaged during the demolition.