Thursday, March 24, 2016

Illegal to rent out a terrace for weddings, says Bombay HC

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.

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