The Bombay High Court today directed an activist to implead Maharashtra minister Ranjit Patil as a respondent in a PIL that alleged that he misused powers and protected an unauthorized eatery in the city. A division bench of Justices R M Sawant and A S Gadkari was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Pravin Wategaonkar. In the PIL, Wategaonkar alleged that Patil, who is a minister of state for urban development, had stayed the demolition of illegal structures at Chinese restaurant ‘Wok Express’ in Bandra-Kurla Complex, even though there existed no provision in the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act for granting such a stay. The PIL alleged that the stay was granted because the eatery is managed by the kin of a principal secretary currently serving in the Maharashtra government. “You (activist) are leveling allegations against the minister. So we will have to hear his side also. Implead the minister as a respondent to the petition,” Justice Sawant said. As per the plea, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had leased the space in BKC to Spice and Grains, an overseas company, to run a food court. The MMRDA, however, found that the company had allegedly carried out unauthorized construction in the area, and in May last year, it issued a demolition notice to the company.
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The company then approached Patil in August, requesting that the demolition order be stayed and “Patil be granted the stay immediately,” said the PIL. The petitioner urged the high court to direct the state government to inquire as to why the minister issued the stay order.