In what could spell serious trouble for administrative authorities in suburban Malad, the Bombay high court has ordered a judicial commission to probe how many illegal structures continue to stand in the Malvani area where 12 persons, including eight children, died last week in a building collapse.
Notably, as far as dangerous or dilapidated buildings are concerned, Malad (east and west) has 24 such private buildings and one civic school declared unsafe for human habitation by the BMC.
The HC bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Friday heard the suo motu PIL it had taken up last year, following the tragic incident of the building collapse in Bhiwandi wherein 38 people lost their lives.
The bench took cognizance of the Malvani building collapse incident and pulled up BMC officials for showing “an extreme lack of solicitude for the rule of law and failure to discharge their statutory duties”.
Accordingly, the judges, to ‘fix accountability’, ordered a judicial enquiry into the incident and appointed Justice (retd) J P Devadhar to conduct an enquiry into the incident.
The judges have provided nine points of reference on which Justice Devadhar will conduct an enquiry.
The bench has asked Justice Devadhar to ascertain if the owner of the building that collapsed in Malvani and/or the person responsible for its construction, obtained a plan
sanctioned by the appropriate planning authority or any other competent authority to raise the structure.
“What is the approximate age of the said building? If the said building was more than 30 years old, was any
structural audit report submitted by the owner/occupiers thereof either before the Planning Authority or the
Collectorate or any other authority?” the point of reference states.
Further, Justice Devadhar has been asked to probe whether the building material used for construction conformed to the prescribed standards of safety?
“Had the said building, at any point of time earlier to its collapse, been inspected by the officials of the Planning Authority or the Collectorate or any other authority? And, whether any statutory notices were issued?” the judges said in their order.
“If the said building had been constructed without a plan, what was the span of such construction and did the officials of the Planning Authority or the Collectorate not notice commencement and completion of construction? If plan was sanctioned then was the structure in conformity with the plan?” the bench asked Justice Devadhar to ascertain.
“If there have been statutory violations in construction of the said building, did the Planning Authority or the Collector or any other authority issue
any notice or take other action against the owner of the building and/or the person responsible for the construction thereof?” the judges added.
The bench has specifically asked Justice Devadhar to answer on whom responsibility could be affixed in the present case? “Who were statutorily responsible to maintain vigil and supervision in respect of unauthorised and illegal buildings and or structures in the area where the said building was constructed?” the bench ordered.
“How many other buildings/structures in the area of the said building are illegal/unauthorised?” the bench asked Justice Devadhar to enquire.
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )