Bombay HC orders fire audit of two Andheri hotels

Observing that there cannot be a compromise to the fire safety norms, the Bombay High Court recently ordered the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) of the city civic body to inspect two hotels in suburban Andheri and not to take any action against them till April 20.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni also stayed the operation of a "water and electricity disconnection" notice issued to the two hotels by the BMC for deficiency in fire safety norms.

The hotels petitioned the judges challenging the notices issued by the BMC. The hotels contended that they have the fire safety norms in place and the notice issued to them is illegal and arbitrary.

The civic body on the other hand argued that the notice issued to the hotels was preceded by necessary inspection and opportunity granted to the persons responsible to maintain the building in good and proper condition with fire prevention and life safety measures and only upon failure to comply with statutory requirements having been noticed, the notice was issued.

The Bench while considering the impugned notice issued on March 23, the judges said, "We do not find any separate reference made to fire prevention and life safety measures at the restaurants/eating houses, run by the petitioners, to be deficient."

"Without there being any finding that the petitioners have failed to equip the restaurants/eating houses by installing adequate fire prevention and life safety measures, disconnection of supply of electricity, as directed, could operate harshly against them. At the same time, there cannot be any compromise with fire prevention and life safety measures," the judges added.

The Bench accordingly ordered the CFO to inspect the hotels and check if all norms for fire safety are in place.

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