“The burden will be on you, if people die,” justice Ranjana Desai said pulling up the municipal corporation over repairs of a dilapidated building in south Mumbai.
The Bombay high court on Wednesday was hearing a petition filed by the Esplanade School Building Tenants Welfare Association seeking that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) be directed to grant them permission for repairs. The corporation had demanded that the tenants of Esplanade School Building on DN Road acquire a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from various authorities and then carry out repairs on the heritage building.
Built in the 1880s, the Esplanade School building houses residences and commercial establishments.
A division bench of justice Desai and justice Rajesh Ketkar also summoned the officer concerned from the civic estate department to be present in court on Thursday.
The petition claimed: “The BMC sought a number of documents, including NOCs from the collector, heritage committee, estate department and even tax authorities. They also asked for original plans, which are difficult to obtain.”
Irked by the corporation’s demands, justice Desai said: “You keep shifting [demand for documents] from department to department…. What if something happens? They [tenants] want to survive in this building.”
In 2008, the BMC had asked the tenants to carry out repairs on the dilapidated building as the occupants were at risk.
The tenants claimed that though they had submitted an application seeking permission to carry out repairs, the BMC did not grant them final permission to commence work.
In November 2010, the BMC issued another notice to the tenants to either carry out repairs or face prosecution.
The tenants’ association then moved the high court.