Bombay High Court has granted relief to Kananga Ranaut in a plea filed against Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for demolishing her Bandra office property. High Court condemned BMC by quoting that the officials had acted with malice in destroying the part of Ranaut’s bungalow.
The court also noted that Ms Ranaut would also be compensated for the damage caused by the demolition by appointing a valuer who would determine orders regarding compensation value.
On September 9th the BMC had smashed a part of Ms Ranaut’s office in a bungalow at Pali Hill, Bandra .The actor alleged the development happened after her remarks of feeling unsafe in Mumbai and comparing it with Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
Following, we see an exchange of derogatory verbal fights between the Maharashtra state government members and Kangana Ranaut. The opposition, including BJP criticised the state government’s use of police power against any criticism. The BJP led centre government also provided Ms Ranaut with Y-plus category of CRPF personnel for her safe return in Mumbai
In petition, Ms Ranaut argued for illegal demolition of her property by BMC who according to her, is controlled and influenced by the ruling state government.
A division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and RI Chagla said “MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) has proceeded on wrongful grounds, against the rights of the citizens. It is nothing but malice in law“. The court also commented “it does not approve of authorities using “muscle power” against any citizen.”
High court further allowed Ms Ranaut to take measure for making her property habitable again, given that it is compliance with the approved plan. An application must be made to BMC for approval which will be decided in weeks. BMC cannot regularise any action until the application disposed of the appointed valuer.
Kangana Ranaut’s and opposition reaction:
Ms Ranaut, who is publicly critical of the state government applauded High Court’s decision by calling it not only a victory of an individual but of democracy.
However, High Court observed that “Kangana Ranaut should show restraint in airing her opinions on the government” and further added irresponsible statement made by a citizen in an individual capacity, however distasteful or wrong they may be, are best ignored.
Following the decision, Devandra Fadavis, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, said “they should realise now that not every voice against the government can be crushed this way.”
He further asked “Will the government call the SC and HC desh drohi (anti-national)?”. He took a dig at Uddhav Thackerey and said “If you speak against the government on social media, you are put under arrest. Such is the condition in Maharashtra. I have never seen a CM who keeps threatening people.”
Given the political conflict and loose statements from Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, the high court said: “Such conduct certainly does not befit a leader like Shri Raut who is also a Parliamentarian.”
Mr Raut, also the spokesperson of Shiv Sena adhering to High court decision, said “I still respect the court’s decision. The law should be equal for all.”
In another case against Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli, High court questions the use of sedition charges 124A of Indian penal code in FIR filed by Mumbai.
Expressing concerts, Justice Shinde asked Mumbai Police’s representative “If anybody doesn’t not fall in line within the government, will that be sedition?”. Justice further emphasised by repeating “Are you treating citizens of the country like this? 124A?”
Justice Shinde further asked why police is invoking such a section in such cases concerning several inadequate matters.
“You conduct proper workshops for officers as to which sections should be invoked,” Justice Shinde told the advocate.
What is sedition in 124A?
Sedition, a British imperial code, acts as a non-bailable offence against any person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India.
The code is heavily criticised for its misuse and curbing of freedom of speech. Mahatma Gandhi himself called it “the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.”
The supreme court and High courts have repeatedly observed that sedition can be only be invoked to penalise criticism of actions of the government when it encourages people to resort violence or have the motivation of creating public disorder.
Mumbai Mayor’s comment:
The elected chief of the BMC Kishori Pednekar of Shiv Sena gives critical remarks by saying “Everyone is surprised that an actor comes to Mumbai, from Himachal Pradesh, and calls it PoK. Then there are complaints against her. Do takke ke log (insignificant people) want to turn the court into a political chaos. This is wrong.”
Ms Pednekar further accepted to adhere court’s ruling with all respect.
In reply to Mayor’s remark, Kangana Ranaut tweeted:
In a big of win of legal proceeding, Ranaut and opposition welcomes High Court orders whereas the ruling party seems to accept the same. Presently, it is unclear if BMC will approach supreme court challenging High Court’s ruling.