Illegal to rent out a terrace for weddings, says Bombay HC
MUMBAI: It is illegal to hire out a building terrace for private functions, including weddings, the Bombay high court has observed, bringing to an end a long run of unauthorised roof-top receptions in a commercial building in Santacruz (west).
However, when a bride-to-be, Fazila Mukaddam, beseeched the high court on Wednesday, Justice S J Kathawalla who made sure that all future rentals were cancelled, allowed one last wedding party to ride up the elevator on March 26, on “purely humanitarian grounds”, given the paucity of time for her family to book an alternative marriage reception hall.
At Dheeraj Heritage, the building in Daulat Nagar, a battle between the housing society and the developer over property tax dues worth over Rs 6 crore revealed how one person, allegedly known to the developer, was using the terrace as his private property to rent it out for weddings and social functions. The society moved the high court after the municipality issued an order of attachment last year against the building because of unpaid property tax of over Rs 6 crore from 2001 till March 31, 2011, a major chunk of dues was between 2005 and 2011.
The society, through its counsel Girish Godbole, had said that the tax had been paid to the developer, Housing Development and Improvement India Pvt Ltd and Pioneer India, who in turn had to pay the amount to the municipality, but that they had failed to do so.
The society filed a suit against the developer to recover that amount and also to have the building conveyed to it. It said that the terrace was illegally being let out for for weddings by one Abdul Barudgar, based on a “purported memorandum of understanding” signed by the developer in 2005. The society complained that the municipality had for a decade turned a blind eye to these illegalities.
The developer has challenged and opposed the suit. The municipality said that the society the building was constructed under a slum rehabilitation scheme would have to pay the dues and cannot raise a belated challenge now. The property tax dispute remains pending.
Asked by the high court to explain how such renting of roof could take place by Barudgar, the civic body’s counsel, Anil Sakhare, last month said it was “illegal to rent it out for private functions” and that illegal structures on the terrace were demolished. The high court had on February 8 restrained Barudgar from allowing any such “illegal activities no matter how long they had continued” on the terrace.
On Wednesday, when Mukaddam moved the high court for an exception, saying the venue cannot be changed at a short notice since the reception is scheduled on March 26 after a series of holidays, Justice Kathawalla, said the family had “adequate time to book an alternate hall” but finally relented to prevent her wedding from being cancelled.
Justice Kathawalla, however, said, it is ” a very serious issue”. He agreed with Sakhare that it could pose safety and fire risk to the building and its other occupants if “800-1,000 people are allowed on the terrace”. The court also rapped Barudgar for giving “different versions” to different benches on the extent of his future bookings. He had earlier said the terrace was booked till May, then said till February 26 and later said there were bookings till next January.
The judge allowed Mukadam to hold her wedding reception on the terrace but prohibited any heating or cooking of food there and restricted the stage to 10-feet height.