Raze eight floors of building added ‘most brazenly’: Bombay HC, ET RealEstate

October 27, 2023

MUMBAI: In a tough verdict against illegal construction, the Bombay high court has ordered the immediate demolition of eight illegal floors added to a pre-Independence era 4-storeyed building, Economic House, at Chinchbunder in south Mumbai.

The extra floors were “most brazenly added” to the building located near Mandvi by misusing stay orders, observed the court. Shocked at the blatant violations, it ordered BMC to forthwith demolish the additional structures. It also directed Hanifa Sindhwa, who claimed rights to the building and challenged the civic action, to pay the BMC Rs 10 lakh as exemplary costs.

Ordering the immediate demolition of eight illegal floors of Economic House at Chinchbunder, Justice Sandeep Marne of the Bombay HC said on October 19, “This is yet another case that depicts the sorry state of affairs in the city of Mumbai.” The municipal corporation through its senior counsel Beni Chatterjee said the BMC had “from time to time” demolished the “massive unauthorised construction” that was carried out beyond the fourth floor. However, the “shocking state of affairs” were such that photos taken on July 6, 2023 and tabled by BMC show that 12 floors now exist at the site, said Justice Marne. A person named Hanifa Ibrahim Sindhwa had claimed rights and title over the 1930 building from its previous owners via a 2013 ‘affidavit-cum-declaration’. In 2015, his son Hanif became the general power of attorney holder. He had sought to undertake tenantable repairs-repairs to make premises habitable-that need no permission from BMC. But “under the guise of carrying out tenantable repairs,” Sindhwa carried out unauthorised construction, adding as many as eight floors to the building, said the judge.”In such circumstances, far from granting any relief (to Sindhwa), the iron hand of law must reach him with full force,” said Justice Marne, also directing that demolition costs should also be recovered from the Sindhwas. Sindhwa’s defence of tenantable repairs-to make the building habitable-is “dishonest and outrageous,” the HC said in its order. The HC said it “cannot shy away from imposing exemplary costs on the plaintiff and directing strict action to be taken against him”.

No development permission to construct beyond four floors existed, said Justice Marne. However, the owners or occupants of Economic House misused and took advantage of interim orders passed first by the City Civil court and then the HC to continue construction, Justice Marne. The City Civil court had, while dismissing Sindhwa’s plea to restrain BMC from acting against the construction, stayed its own order on February 15 last year to enable an appeal. The HC had continued the stay, pending the appeal. Sindhwa through advocates Rahul Arora and D P Singh claimed the BMC action was illegal and “faulty” citing a 1961 ‘commencement certificate’ of the BMC for repairs to the then existing fifth floor. He said the building was from 1930 and known by two other names-Amin and Maa Rahima Mansion.

Chatterjee said-and HC accepted-that during pendency of appeal Sindhwa “brazenly erected eight floors which “can by no stretch of imagination be treated as tenantable repairs”. He said BMC doubts the genuineness of the alleged 1961 nod and found no records of such a file. The BMC had also lodged an FIR with Dongri police in August 2021 over the construction. The HC also declined a plea from Sindhwa for a six-week stay of its order.

  • Published On Oct 27, 2023 at 01:00 PM IST

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