The Bombay HC censured collector for her ‘high-handedness’ in sealing Cambata Trust’s building after the firm failed to pay its employees.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Tuesday came down heavily on the collector for initiating attachment and sealing procedure of Cambata Trust’s Churchgate-based building, which houses commercial entities including Cambata Aviation and the Eros movie theatre. Censuring the bureaucrat for her “high-handedness”, the court ordered de-sealing of the entire building and warned the collector that it would pass “strictures” against her, which would be included in her service record.
The collector had on Wednesday sealed Cambata Trust’s building for Cambata Aviation’s failure to pay Rs 4.45 crore in salaries to 1,200 of its employees since February 2016. Thereafter, the S.C. Cambata Trust, Eros Theatre and Restaurant, and Bank of India filed separate writ petitions seeking ad interim relief directing the state authorities to forthwith open the seal that was put on their premises by collector Ashwini Joshi. On Thursday, a division bench of Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice Prakash Naik and a single bench of Justice K.K. Tated heard the petitions.
All three petitions pleaded that Cambata Aviation did not own any property in the said building and, hence, sealing of their offices was illegal and caused unnecessary suffering to tenants who had nothing to do with the pending dues. Also, the attachment and sealing procedure was initiated after an expiry of 20 days’ limit given by the collector in her notice to Cambata Aviation served on December 28.
After hearing the petitions of Cambata Trust and Eros Theatre, the division bench observed, “Prima facie, the order of sealing is arbitrary and there seems to be non-application of mind. Due procedure has not been followed. We direct the authority concerned to de-seal the entire building and all offices located in it forthwith.” The court also chided the collector for her high-handedness and warned that it would be forced to pass orders against her, which would be included in her service record.