Restaurants operating from the first floor flats of capital’s posh Khan Market are a fire hazard and a fire trap with no proper measures for escape in the event of fire, the Delhi High Court said on Thursday.
The court described the eateries as “a disaster waiting to happen”.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said the flats in Khan Market, most of which have now been turned into commercial establishments, were constructed for residential purposes. Most of them have narrow staircases which pose a threat to customers in the event of fire.
The staircases open in narrow service lanes in which perhaps the fire brigade cannot enter, Justice Endlaw said.
The court made it clear that restaurant and eateries will be liable for the loss or damages to life or property of anyone from any incident of fire in their premises.
The court further directed DFS to re-visit its policy which exempt restaurants with a seating capacity of less than 50 persons from obtaining clearance under the Delhi Fire Service Act.
As per the National Building Code, 2005 the restaurants with less than 50 persons capacity do not require fire clearance.
“What is all the more shocking is that there appears to have been no check on whether the eating houses or restaurants which have been permitted to function do not allow more than 50 persons to assemble,” the court remarked.
This is yet another instance of the public-private partnership of municipal and police authorities – flat and restaurant owners showing scant regard for human life, the court said.
It also reminded of the 1997 Uphaar Cinema tragedy in which 59 people died and more than 100 injured.
The court directed the NDMC and the Delhi Fire Service to decide whether the said restaurants satisfy the law for their establishment.