Comedian Kapil Sharma is looking at a possible jail sentence of five years and/or payment of Rs 1 lakh as surety if found guilty in a case registered against him, for destroying mangroves near his Versova bungalow.
The case was filed on the basis of a complaint from the Andheri tehsildar’s office, which stated that Sharma had illegally dumped debris and made unauthorised additions to the Versova property, leading to the destruction of protected mangroves.
Spokesperson for the Mumbai Police DCP Ashok Dudhe told Firstpost on Tuesday, 20 September, “Prima facie, Kapil Sharma was found guilty of cutting (down) mangroves. So we registered a case against Kapil under Section 15 (1)(2) of the Environment Act. The investigation is currently going on.”
Bungalow number 71 at the Four Bungalows area in Andheri (West) was purchased by Kapil Sharma on 7 November 2015. Sharma then allegedly carried out the illegal alterations to the property.
Mumbai suburban district collector Deependra Singh Kushwah had directed officials to conduct a survey to find if Sharma had violated the Environment Act by dumping debris near the mangroves. After the survey, a complaint was filed at the Versova police station.
The probe was ordered days after Sharma’s tweet dated 9 September alleging that he had been asked for a bribe of Rs 5 lakh by officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to regularise the construction of his office space, went viral. Sharma had tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his tweet as well, asking: “Yeh hain aapke ache din?”
While Sharma was initially hailed for calling out corruption, the tide quickly turned against the former Comedy Nights host when civic officials stated that he had made several illegal additions to his properties in Oshiwara and Versova.
Over the next few days, Sharma was facing cases for the illegal construction at the apartment he owns in Oshiwara’s DLH Enclave (Kapil reportedly sold the flat a few months ago, but the alterations were made before that), for flouting Coastal Regulatory Zone norms by carrying out unauthorised alterations at his Versova bungalow, and several political parties were threatening to boycott his TV show if he didn’t name the civic officials who allegedly demanded the bribe.
Last week, the Oshiwara police registered a case against Sharma under Section 53 (7) of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, for the illegal constructions at his flat in the DLH high rise based on a complaint by a BMC official. (Cases were also registered against actor Irrfan Khan and a few other flat owners in the same building.) If found guilty, Sharma could be facing jail time between one month to three years, a Times of India article said.
Reports state that Sharma has been trying to set up a meeting with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, to preempt any action that may be taken against him. He even sought the help of actor Vivek Oberoi, who is known to be close to Fadnavis, in order to get an appointment with the CM.
However, Fadnavis has not responded to Sharma’s overtures thus far, perhaps as a result of being criticised for his prompt response to Sharma’s 9 September tweet, without waiting for clarification from civic officials.
Kapil Sharma did not respond to Firstpost’s requests for a comment at the time of publishing this report. Calls and messages to Sharma’s phone went unanswered.
— With inputs from PTI