Government moots empowering civic bodies to seal illegal eateries

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Monday informed the Bombay High Court that it is exploring the possibilities of conferring powers on the civic bodies to seal the premises from which illegal eateries function. The government, however, sought some time to come to a conclusion.

A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla was informed that the government had convened a meeting with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the representatives of the urban development department.

“In the meeting, we first tried to explore if electricity and water supplies of such eateries could be disconnected by the civic bodies,” Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, advocate general, submitted.

“But that was not much practical as most of these eateries function from a building-like structure and there can be difficulties for other tenants of the building too,” Kumbhkoni added.

The advocate general further told the judges that the government was, however, exploring other possibilities. “We are trying to figure out if BMC officials can be given powers to seal the premises. As of now, they only have the power to seize the articles or furniture of such illegal eateries,” the AG submitted.

This comes after BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi apprised the bench led by Justice Kathawalla last month that the civic body has no powers to seal the premises of illegal eateries and thus such eateries continue to operate.

The bench had summoned Pardeshi while hearing a plea filed by a Kandivili resident, highlighting the apathy of the civic body in acting against illegal eateries. The petition exposed the functioning of a hotel in suburban Kandivili, which was operating smoothly without having any licence.

The bench had earlier, ordered the civic body to ensure that the hotel is shut. However, on Monday, the counsel appearing for the petitioner, pointed out that despite the hotel premises being locked down, it was still shown ‘24×7 operational’ on a restaurant aggregator’s application.

Having considered the submission, the bench has ordered the hotel owner to remain present before the court on Wednesday morning to explain the allegations.

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