Bombay HC refuses to let Families stay in Dilapidated Building

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Observing that 3 dilapidated buildings have fallen in the last week in Mumbai, resulting in the loss of twelve lives, the High Court of Bombay on Tuesday declined to grant any relief to 2 families who wanted to continue occupying a crumbling building in Juhu.

The division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla & Riyaz Chagla dismissed the plea filed by the 2 families challenging the action of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to disconnect the water & electricity supply to the dilapidated building.

The families had filed the plea through their society, Nav Chetana Co-operative Housing Society. According to the plea, in Aug 2019, after noticing that the structure had become weak the civic body had issued a notice calling upon the society to undertake a structural audit of the building & submit a report of a qualified structural engineer certifying that the building was structurally sound & fit for human habitation.

As the society failed to submit a structural audit report, BMC on Sept 7, 2019, issued another notice informing the society that the building was in a ruinous condition & was likely to fall. The society was also called upon to take steps to secure the structure building undertaking necessary repairs & put up adequate support, & also put up boards to warn passersby that the building was dangerous.

In reply to the notices issued by BMC, the society on Jan 8, 2020, submitted a statement of a consulting engineer saying that necessary propping work in the stilt & balcony area was done under his guidance & that the building was fit for human habitation for next 6 months.

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However, the Bench noticed that the period of 6 months, as mentioned in the engineer’s report was over. Besides, the Judges also noted that 6 of the total 8 families residing in the building had vacated their respective premises, & only the 2 families before the Court had not vacated their premises despite several requests & warnings as regards the ruinous & dilapidated condition of the building.

In this backdrop, the Court said that the BMC was left with no other alternative but to disconnect water & electricity supply to the building. The two families had challenged the civic action on the ground that it was arbitrary, the Court, however, found that it was “not only not arbitrary but was in the interest of the petitioners & the members of the general public.”

High Court said about a week back during the heavy downpour three dilapidated buildings collapsed in the city, resulting in twelve casualties & injuries to several persons. “We cannot allow the same to be repeated in the present case, only because two of the eight members are adamant & are not wanting to vacate their flats to enable the building to be repaired or reconstructed.”

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Meanwhile, in a similar plea, on Friday, the same Bench refused to grant any relief to the occupants of a dilapidated building at Dahisar & directed the eighty families residing there to vacate their respective flats in four weeks. High Court granted 2 additional weeks to a family, whose five members are infected by Coronavirus.

Members of the Dahisar society had moved High Court in June 2020 after BMC threatened to disconnect their water & electricity supply, as the building was dilapidated & was likely to collapse.

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