Denying interim relief will cause trauma to people who pre-booked the hall; Bombay High Court grants relief to marriage hall owner despite his failure to comply with Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s directions

Bombay High Court

   

Bombay High Court: Invoking its equity jurisdiction, the Division Bench of Sunil B. Shukre and Anil L. Pansare, JJ., granted interim relief to a marriage hall owner and restrained the authorities from shutting down the marriage hall, despite the hall owners’ lackadaisical attitude in complying with the directions of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (hereinafter the Board). The Court expressed,

“After all, not allowing the petitioner to go ahead with the proposed marriage function would ultimately lead to cancellation of marriage between young bride and groom causing great trauma, pain, inconvenience and financial loss and sometimes even resulting in breaking of hearts.”

The petitioner, who was running a marriage hall by the name Lobhaji Appa Gawali Mangal Karyalay, had challenged the legality of the order dated 31-10-2022 of the Board, directing to shut down the hall due to non-compliance with the Board’s earlier order dated 14-07-2022 directing him to set up proper Sewage Treatment Plants (STP). The petition urged the Court to pass an interim order granting him further time to comply with the aforesaid directions on the following grounds:

  • That the Board had failed to provide him sufficient time to comply with the proposed direction issued on 14-07-2022.

  • The business of marriage hall which falls in the hospitality sector had suffered financial losses during the last three years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, he could not comply with the proposed directions due to financial difficulties.

  • Showing his desire to comply with the proposed directions, the petitioner contended that the process of calling of the quotations had been started and he had received quotes from two contractors.

  • That he has also provided (1) proper ducting, (2) proper exhaust system, (3) proper hood and (4) Chimney of adequate height over “Bhatti” or the firewood hot plate.

  • The petitioner further contended that in June 2022, i.e., even before the proposed directions dated 14.07.2022 were issued, he had accepted bookings of the marriage hall for three days, 25, 26 and 27 November-2022.

The Court noted that the quotations being pointed out by the petitioner were in fact are from only two contractors, and there is not a single quotation invited or received in between 01-08-2022 and 08-11-2022 which shows the lackadaisical attitude of the petitioner despite having received proposed directions on 14-07-2022 and in spite of having taken advance bookings for marriage. The Court remarked,

“Had there been any other party in place of the petitioner, which has accepted huge responsibility in the nature of acceptance of marriage bookings for the three dates of November 2022, that person after having received a warning in the nature of proposed directions dated 14.07.2022 would have set himself upon the work of establishment of STP on war footing and would not have spent time of almost four months for completing the work.”

Despite condemning the lackadaisical attitude of the petitioner and showing unwillingness to grant him any relief, the Court opined that it is the duty of the Courts to examine the consequences of denial of any interim relief to the petitioner and whether such denial would impact the private parties. In such circumstances, the Courts are required to exercise their jurisdiction, though not to protect a person like the petitioner but to protect the interest of the private parties, who are likely to suffer irreparably, for no fault on their part, especially when, payment of compensation would bring no adequate relief to them.

Therefore, with a view to balance different interests, the Court took recourse to its equity jurisdiction and agreed to grant interim relief to the petitioner on stringent conditions:

a) The petitioner, in order to show his bonafides, shall deposit an amount of Rs. 3,00,000 in the Court latest by 22-11-2022.

b) The petitioner shall not accept new bookings for any function till he complies with all the proposed directions dated 14-07-2022.

Accordingly, the petitioner was permitted to run the marriage hall only for the purpose of completion of the marriage functions and ceremonies from 24-11-2022 to 28-11-2022. The Court further directed that for these five days from 24-11-2022 to 28-11-2022, supply of electricity and supply of tap water shall be restored to the petitioner and thereafter the authorities shall be at liberty to disconnect the same.

The matter is posted on 30-11-2022 for further hearing.

[Lobhaji Appa Gawali Mangal Karyalay v. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 5653, decided on 18-11-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. S.N. Tapadia, Counsel for the Petitioner;

Mr. A.S. Thotange, Counsel for the Respondent No. 3.


*Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

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