Kapil Sharma vs BMC: FIR against comedian for illegal construction

Days after popular stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma tweeted about Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) asking for bribe, an FIR has been lodged against the artiste for alleged illegal construction at his flat in suburban Goregaon.

Last week, Kapil in a tweet alleged that BMC had demanded a bribe of Rs 5 lakh from him for the construction of his office. The civic body in turn claimed that the actor-comedian had flouted norms in his Versova office building and his apartment in suburban Goregaon. Officials claimed the unauthorised construction has destroyed a portion of mangroves abutting the building.

Based on a complaint by BMC, police registered a case against Kapil under section 53(7) of Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP) 1966.

Following the complaint, the forest department swung into action and officials of the department visited the comedian’s office in Versova on Monday and surveyed its premises and surrounding areas.

“Following instructions from our chief conservator of the forest, our team visited the spot from where we received complaints. We found that there have been violations not only by Sharma, but 50-60 other flat owners also,” Assistant Forest Conservator Makarand Ghodke told PTI.

“All these occupants here have harmed the mangroves in their constructions and have made alterations. We have taken the GPS reading and will come out with final report in a day or two which will be submitted to the collector to take a final call,” Ghodke said.

The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had also filed a complaint against Kapil for keeping mum on his allegation that civic officials had demanded money from him, and violation of building norms by him.

MNS general secretary Shalini Thackeray said they are going to follow up the issue for proper action. She also said it was unfortunate that celebrities get special treatment. Social activist Anil Galgali also said that instead of setting up an example, the comedian preferred to use his “celebrity status” rather than replying to the civic notices.

However, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam came out in support of Kapil and said the artist was being “victimised” to divert attention from the issue of graft. He also urged Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to intervene in the matter.

On Friday last, Kapil had tweeted his anguish and said, “I am paying Rs 15 cr income tax from last 5 year n still i have to pay Rs 5 lakhs bribe to BMC office for making my office @narendramodi.”

“Yeh hain aapke achhe din? @narendramodi (are these your good days),” he had sought to know in another tweet, referring to Modi’s 2014 poll slogan of “good days are ahead”.

Sharma has 63 lakh followers on his Twitter handle and since he tagged the Prime Minister, the tweet generated sharp reactions from all major political parties, with an eye on the forthcoming civic elections. It also sparked an instant response from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who requested Kapil to provide authorities with necessary information to punish the culprit.

Later, in an apparent attempt to cap the controversy from escalating, Kapil said he did not seek to blame any political party.