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Bombay HC pulls up Mumbai mayor for ‘blaming’ court for building collapses

Slamming civic authorities for blaming the court for building collapses, the Bombay High Court on Friday said, “We are not going to tolerate politics over building collapses.”

Bombay High Court’s statement comes just after a four-storey building in the Malvani area of Mumbai collapsed and killed 11 people, followed by another building collapse in city’s Shivaji Nagar area which killed one person.

While interacting with the media on the Malvani building collapse, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar had reportedly said that the demolition of dilapidated buildings has been halted due to court orders.

Read | Mumbai: 4-storey building in Malvani collapses, 11 dead

Responding to Mumbai mayor’s statement, the Bombay High Court on Friday said: “We are not going to tolerate politics overbuilding collapses. We have said that if a building is dangerous or dilapidated then the concerned authority should approach the court for demolition.”

The court stated this while extending an earlier order pertaining to eviction, demolition, or dispossession of people who do not have access to judicial process during the pandemic. According to this order, authorities are not permitted to evict people while the pandemic has hampered judicial processes.

The full bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justices AA Sayed, SS Shinde, and PB Varale issued an order in a suo motu writ petition on the extension of protection to those who are unable to access justice due to the limited functioning of courts affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result, the Court reviewed media reports and requested clarification from advocate Anil Sakhre, who was representing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Sakhre informed the court that the Mumbai Mayor had been quoted out of context. The court then requested that he explain the context and, if possible, show a video of the interaction.

“We are all public institutions working for the public good,” Chief Justice Datta said.

The court further said, “If authorities consider any building within its jurisdiction or administrative limits to be dilapidated or unsafe and it requires them to be demolished with immediate vacation by the inhabitants of the building, such civic authority is at liberty to give notice to the relevant division bench dealing with the suo motu matter pertaining to building collapse and seek appropriate orders for taking action,” the full bench, led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta, stated this while expressing its displeasure with civic authorities blaming the court for not allowing them to demolish buildings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Justice Datta added that it was unfortunate that building collapses were taking place and that lawyers representing local authorities were pointing fingers at the court.

“These structures did not spring up in response to our directives. They had been there for about ten to fifteen years. The municipal bodies do not act on time, and then they try hiding behind our orders,” he said, adding, “This is not fair.”

READ | Mumbai under-reporting Covid deaths? Mayor says no river to dump dead; BJP hits out at her

READ | Mumbai Mayor’s objectionable language in tweet triggers row

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