Bombay HC upholds heritage tag for Lata Mangeshkar-owned studio

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday, Dec 14 dismissed a petition filed by renowned singer Lata Mangeshkar challenging Maharashtra government’s decision to declare Jayprabha Studio in Kolhapur, owned by her, as a heritage structure.

A division bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka noted that Kolhapur Municipal Corporation had shown negligence in completing the process of declaring the studio as a heritage structure and therefore the state government appointed an officer to complete the process. “…this step of the government (to appoint an officer) is completely legal,” said the bench.

The government had, on December 29, 2012, passed an order declaring the studio as a heritage structure. Mangeshkar moved the court against the decision, saying that due to the heritage status, the studio could not be renovated, rebuilt or repaired.

She was given no notice before declaring the studio as a heritage structure as required under Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, the petition contended.

The singer bought the 13-acre plot, where the studio stands, from renowned Marathi filmmaker Bhalji Pendharkar in 1959.

Pendharkar had bought the land from the erstwhile princely state of Kolhapur on the condition that it would be used for building a film studio.

Mangeshkar’s lawyer argued that to date no heritage conservation committee had been constituted for Kolhapur city either by the civic body or by the deputy town planning director.

As per the regulations for the conservation of heritage buildings, such a committee should have been constituted first, Mangeshkar’s lawyer contended.

He also pointed out that on one hand the corporation said the building was dilapidated and therefore should be demolished while on the other hand it also said the studio was a heritage structure and could not be demolished.

The lawyer had also challenged appointment of an officer by the state government to oversee the process. But the High Court held that such an officer can exercise all the powers of Municipal Corporation under MRTP Act.