Bombay high court: No stay on demolition if building is dilapidated
On Monday, the division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel said it will not allow petitioners to use courts granting stays as excuses to remain in dilapidated buildings.Updated: Aug 21, 2019 05:33 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) has removed the stay on the demolition of a building in Malad, stating that unlike in the past when the court allowed stays on demolition, it will not be doing so anymore if the building is dilapidated. The court held that judges have “learnt their lesson well” and in most cases where the courts had given orders of status quo, the buildings had collapsed and this needs to stop.
On Monday, the division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel said it will not allow petitioners to use courts granting stays as excuses to remain in dilapidated buildings.
The bench while hearing a petition filed by residents of a building in Malad (West) was informed that although the building was not in ruinous condition, it had been receiving eviction notices from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) since 2011, allegedly at the behest of a developer who had purchased the property in 2009. The petitioners, through advocate Shreepad Murthy, alleged that though two independent structural auditors had opined that the building could be repaired, the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the BMC had said the building was in an advanced stage of deterioration and should be demolished.
Murthy informed the court that in light of the disagreement, a previous bench of the HC had stayed the TAC decision and directed all parties to maintain status quo. He had submitted that “rapacious landlords in connivance with venal municipal officers were issuing Section 354 pull-down notices [of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act] almost indiscriminately”.
After hearing the submissions, the court observed that the fear of tenants that their rights would be harmed if the building was demolished were unfounded as the relevant section of the MMC Act safeguarded them. It also held that even though tenants gave undertakings to the court to live on in dilapidated structures at their own risk, the same could not be allowed.
“Like everyone else, judges, too, must learn from their mistakes; and it is correctly said that those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it,” said the bench and dismissed the petition.