HC dismisses plea on lawyer’s charges paid by BMC in Kangana case

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging the fees paid by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to a senior counsel in the case of demolition of actor Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow, saying the court cannot interfere or regulate such decisions. A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale rejected the petition filed by one Sharad Yadav, who claimed the BMC had paid Rs 82.50 lakh to senior counsel Aspi Chinoy for representing the civic body in the petition filed by Ranaut.

“This is an area we cannot interfere or regulate. What fees should be charged by an advocate on record or a senior advocate is not something that this court should go into,” the bench said.

Yadav, who claims to be an RTI activist, had sought an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the matter and said the BMC caused loss to the public exchequer.

The plea said the BMC ought not to have appointed such senior advocates in “simple and petty” matters.

The HC, however, said it is not for the court to decide such matters.

“It is the BMC’s decision whom to appoint. For you (Yadav) it may be a simple and petty case, but for the BMC it might have been an important case,” Justice Shinde said.

“Who will decide whether it is important or petty matter? That is for the authority concerned to decide,” the court said.

Just like any other litigant, the BMC can appoint any lawyer they want, and there cannot be any restriction especially from the court, Justice Shinde said.

The court also said if the petitioner feels an offence of cheating or causing loss to the public exchequer is made out, then he can approach the police or a magistrate court with a private complaint.

Ranaut approached the HC in September last year, challenging the demolition of a part of her bungalow in Pali Hill area here by the BMC.

She had alleged that the BMC acted out of vendetta.

The civic body, however, claimed the bungalow had been altered in breach of structural permits.

The high court, in its judgement in November last year, held the demolition as illegal and said the BMC had acted out of malice.

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