`Baffled' by BMC's refusal, HC orders it to refund deposit paid for use of ground

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Mumbai, May 16 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Thursday ordered the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to refund a deposit paid by a city resident for using a public ground, and said he should not have been compelled to move the court over the issue.

Common sense dictated that petitioner Pradip Kolhe, a Christian reverend, was entitled to a refund as he could not use the ground for an event, and it was "baffled" by the corporation's stand, said a division bench of Justices Makarand Karnik and Kamal Khata.

The court directed the BMC to refund him Rs 8 lakh within two weeks.

Kolhe had paid the deposit while seeking permission to hold `Mumbai Shanti Mohotsav 2022, a Prayer Meet' at the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) ground here. But the event was cancelled as Mumbai police denied permission.

While the MMRDA and sub-divisional officer of the state government refunded the deposits paid by him, the BMC refused, claiming that there was no such policy. Kolhe then moved the HC.

The high court remarked in the order that it was "obligatory for the BMC to apply its mind and the law, and refund the amount." The petitioner should not have been compelled to file the petition in the first place, and while the amount was "insignificant" by Mumbai standards, he was entitled to it "common-sensically", said the bench.

"We are, to say the least, baffled by the stand taken by the authority. Assuming there is no policy of refund, there also is no term, provision, or condition in the 'application for permission' to forfeit the amounts so deposited for seeking permission in the event the same is refused," the HC said.

In the absence of any such condition in the application or a statutory provision or circular, the BMC could not forfeit deposits, the judges said. PTI SP KRK