Kamala Mills fire: ‘How can you grant licence to an eatery on terrace of a building?’
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Rebeiro, seeking fire audit of all eateries across Mumbai and setting up of a special investigation team of senior police officials to carry out a probe into all FIRs related to the fire in Kamala Mills compound.mumbai Updated: Feb 12, 2018 21:32 IST
The Bombay high court on Monday questioned the practice adopted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to allow roof-top hotels and restaurants in the wake of fire in Kamala Mills Compound that killed 14 people.
“How can you grant licence to an eating house on the terrace of a building,” a division bench of justice RM Borde and justice Rajesh Ketkar sought to know from BMC counsel and senior advocate Anil Sakhare. The judges wondered as to what the concept of roof-top hotels was. “Terrace is a common amenity and it must remain open to use for all occupants as a common facility,” the bench said in this regard, adding, “No licence can be granted for an eating house on the terrace.”
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Rebeiro, seeking fire audit of all eateries across Mumbai and setting up of a special investigation team of senior police officials to carry out a probe into all FIRs related to the fire in Kamala Mills compound.
The judges wanted to know as to how the terrace was sold or allowed to be used for bars and restaurants, when provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act and Ownership Apartments Act prohibit it, and how the civic body could have granted licence to the roof-top bars and restaurants like 1Above and Mojo’s Bristo in Kamla Mills.
Sakhare replied saying the building is in commercial use and its owner has allowed the use of the terrace for commercial purpose. He clarified part of the terrace is constructed and the licence was granted for the constructed area, and not for serving food and liquor in the open part of the terrace.
The judges also felt there was complete lack of monitoring mechanism to ensure the licensing conditions are complied with by hotels and restaurants. “Prima facie, we find there is no monitoring at all after the licences are granted,” said the bench.
During the course of hearing on the PIL, Sakhare told the bench that the BMC has initiated departmental action against 12 erring employees, including one fire brigade officer who has been booked and arrested by NM Joshi Marg police in the offence registered in connection with the fire.
The senior advocate said the erring employees are from different civic departments such as health, fire brigade and the ward office concerned, and charge sheets have been served upon them.
The court has now directed the BMC to submit its roof-top policy and also inform the bench the number and type of licences required for a bar and restaurant and the regulatory mechanism, if any, to ensure compliance with licensing conditions.
The PIL will come up for further hearing on Wednesday.