BMC can force-evict people from unsafe buildings, says Bombay high courtUpdated: Mar 01, 2018 00:56 IST
The Bombay high court on Wednesday held that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) can, with police help, forcibly evict occupants of completely unsafe or dangerous buildings in order to prevent loss of life or property.
The ruling came while hearing a petition filed by the civic body four years ago.
The BMC had approached the HC complaining that the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, 1888 does not empower the civic body to forcibly evict occupants of premises that have become unsafe or dangerous and pose a threat to life and property not only of its occupants but also that of others.
The civic body had sought orders from the HC to forcibly evict an occupant of a dilapidated building at Oshiwara – Sohansingh Mansion. All other occupants of the unsafe building had moved out after a part of it collapsed in August 2001, but one family refused to cooperate.
The civic body had complained that in many cases, a few occupants of dilapidated buildings refuse to vacate the building, even after notice is issued to them under section 354 of the MMC Act, and civic officials cannot forcibly evict such non-cooperating occupant for want of statutory powers.
A division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Riyaz Chagla held the civic body was not powerless to handle such a situation. The bench said under section 489 of the MMC Act, it is mandatory for the commissioner of police (CP) to extend police aid wherever necessary to evict occupants of dilapidated buildings.
The bench said whenever the municipal commissioner or other municipal officer demands reasonable police aid, it is the duty of the police commissioner and the in-charge of the local police station to ensure it is provided.
The bench also disapproved of the practice of the police department to levy and demand from the BMC police protection cost whenever police aid is provided to the municipal corporation for carrying out civic duties. “There is no provision in the law that empowers the state to levy and recover police aid charges from municipal corporations,” the bench said, directing municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta to take up the matter with the state government.