Bombay HC
Bombay HC
File Photo

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday pulled up the Maharashtra government and the civic bodies in the state on failing to keep a check on the rise in illegal constructions and dilapidated buildings despite several orders.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni also suggested the state to consider coming up with a dedicated tribunal only to hear the matters pertaining to illegal constructions. The suggestion came after the judges noted the fact that in such cases, the moment a civic body issues a demolition notice to a structure, the tenants/owners challenge the same before lower courts and get the notices stayed.

"And in several cases, the civic bodies do not even bother to follow up on the matter and it gets stayed forever," the bench said, adding, "Thus, when there are so many tribunals for various things then why can't there be one for this one of the most important issue."

The judges noted that the most recent order of the HC asking the authorities to initiate stern action against illegal constructions was passed in 2019 and yet there have been incidents of building collapse. "We think there is illegality and dereliction of duty on part of the civic body officials. It appears that the civic bodies have no will to work on this issue."

"We don't know where we all are heading. Thus, it is utmost important to sensitise all ward officers about their duties, especially with regards to illegal structures under their jurisdiction. We say so because human life cannot be so cheap," the bench added.

The bench was meanwhile, informed that at least 40 per cent of structures in Mumbai's slums are illegal.

Having heard the submission, the judges pointed out that Navi Mumbai is one of the planned cities in the state and it is only after the civic body there takes timely action, the city won't see the rise in numbers of illegal structures as has been the case in Mumbai, Thane, Bhiwandi etc.

The judges were seized with a suo motu PIL, it had taken up last year, after the tragic incident of building collapse in Bhiwandi, wherein 38 people lost their lives.

Posting the matter for further hearing on March 3, the judges ordered all the civic bodies and councils in the state to submit a list of dangerous buildings, illegal constructions in their jurisdictions.

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