MUMBAI: Bombay High Court on Thursday criticized state government to order civic agencies not to demolish unauthorized structures during monsoons, even if a residential building mumbra facing demolition sought relief based on this directive.
“We want you to live. We don’t want you to die because the building collapses,” said Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand Karnik even as defense counsel for Suhas Oak representing an illegal structure called Farida Mansion urged the court to review their case on “humanitarian grounds.”
The court heard a PIL filed by three people in 2021 regarding the collapse of a building at Lucky Compound in Mumbra in April 2014 that killed around 80 people. PIL refers to 9 buildings in wards 29 and 33 built on private land without penalty. Last year HC directed the Thane Municipal Corporation to file a report on illegal buildings, which it did on January 5; On June 27, judges questioned what action had been taken on the report. Now the high court has allowed time until Monday to submit the details of all the residents in the nine buildings mentioned in the PIL so they can pass the order.
Ram Apte, senior advocate for TMC, said it has issued a demolition notice and cut off electricity and water supplies. However, he said residents have refused to move buildings. The judges said the buildings were built “under the supervision of your commissioner and others.” Advocate Neeta Karnik, for the petitioners, said construction began prior to the lockdown and was also carried out during the lockdown. “If the power goes out, how do they stay there?” she asked.
Oak refers to TOI’s report on the urban development department’s June 29, 2021 directive to all civic agencies not to demolish illegal structures, slums and encroachment on government land. government, semi-government and private sectors during the monsoons from June 1 to September 30. The UK also filed a GR in 1998 placing a moratorium on demolition during monsoons.
The judges questioned the government about the 1998 GR and whether its officials were unaware of the 1995 verdict that set out actionable procedures against unauthorized constructions. “Why not destroy in the monsoon? More risk in the monsoon. What is the logic?” CJ asked. “I’m new to Mumbai. How many collapses did suo motu report!” he added. Oak said the GR was issued on humanitarian grounds. “Would you place an executive order on a higher pedestal than a judicial order?” CJ asked.
Oak also said “90% of the buildings in Mumbra are illegal but only these 9 buildings have been targeted and 200 of the construction work of unsanctioned buildings is still going on even today.” in.” nine buildings, they will expand the scope of the PIL to include other unauthorized buildings. Oak said, “There are young children (who reside in buildings). We are not against demolition. Can give a time. “. The judges asked whether the residents would make a commitment to move out by August 31. The judges granted him time until Monday for him to obtain details of all the families. Until then, TMC will not take any enforcement action. .
HC expressed displeasure when the state said that it was practically impossible to ban hoarding
Bombay High Court on Thursday frowned upon the state government after it said it was in practice difficult to monitor illegal hoarding and banners. “You are saying that the government cannot carry out the direction of the court,” said Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Chief Justice Makarand Karnik. They heard two contempt petitions, one of which was brought forward by a high court in a suo motu PIL petition regarding failure to comply with the last order of the day. January 31, 2017 to remove banners and illegal hoarding.
However, state supporter Bhupesh Samant said there was an implementation problem as it was not possible to ban hoarding outright. “If we try to control it, it will be like putting a total ban on alcohol,” he said. The judge then quipped, “Can’t you find a better example?” Samant says banning hoarding will lead to people finding various ways to hoard them, including pressure tactics, and there have also been attacks on city employees. Saman said hoarding is a “regular, recurring feature” and it requires manpower and energy and the state is trying to regulate it rather than banning hoarding outright. “We are working to see other alternatives,” he said, adding that hoarding could be allowed in fixed areas, like with parking lots.
The judge asked why the state did not adopt a policy where political leaders say they do not want their faces displayed on the hoards. Samant replied that it was “a democratic establishment where everyone has rights” and that it was a “fundamental fact”. The chief justice then said, “Without the encouragement of the leaders, they would not have made these hoards. They have to tell their followers, ‘Don’t do that. We don’t want it. ‘ Let a leader say this. The judges asked how the state could allow illegal hoarding.
Samant says the matter has been discussed with stakeholders and that people generally don’t take hoarding seriously. He said the issue of hoarding was ignored because of Covid-19 because priorities had changed during the pandemic. “It’s not a life-or-death situation,” he added. Saman clarified that the state did not say it would not follow a high court’s direction to eliminate illegal hoardings but that in “certain times, changes in priorities and law and order prioritized”. “Pruning it while it’s sprouting. Why do you allow hoarding to come and say we don’t have the manpower?” asked the judge. The judges announced the matter for the next hearing on the same day. July 28.