Mumbai: A masjid in a dilapidated building has no relevance at all to the question of public safety, opined the Bombay High Court on Tuesday. The HC even slammed the BMC and the MHADA for not initiating any action against a dilapidated building in Bhendi Bazaar.
A bench of Justice Gautam Patel has ordered the BMC and the MHADA to file their affidavits explaining why they could not demolish the building - Haji Ismail Musafirkhana, despite it being categorised as C-1 - a dangerous structure.
Notably, the building stands next to the last known address of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, on the Pakmodia street.
To protect the building from demolition, a few tenants informed Justice Patel that the structure could not be razed as firstly it has a masjid inside and secondly it is a Wakf property.
Trashing the contention, Justice Patel said, "The first submission is, to my mind, entirely irrelevant. Even assuming there is a masjid, this has no bearing or relevance at all to questions of public safety, for these are paramount, or to the question of structural soundness of the building in question."
"It is abundantly clear — and in this city at least there is no shortage of examples — that a collapse of a building especially in a crowded area will inevitably endanger the lives and properties of innocent third parties in the vicinity," Justice Patel observed further.
The bench further noted that the contention of there being a masjid is in dispute as the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) claimed that "there is a space that can be described as a prayer hall, but there is certainly no masjid."
During the course of the hearing, the bench noted that apart from the contentions of the tenants, the BMC and also the MHADA had both failed to act against the building.
"I am wholly unable to understand why the BMC and MHADA, both statutory authorities, and both armed with sufficient statutory powers have not proceeded to take action not only for removal of occupants but for demolition of the building," Justice Patel sought to know.
Justice Patel further pointed out the order passed by a division bench of the HC led by Justice (retd.) Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari, that under the extant law under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act regarding forcible demolition of a dilapidated building.
"Therefore, I require an explanation on affidavit from the BMC and from MHADA as to why they are unable to take action and why they have not take action so far," Justice Patel said while posting the matter for further hearing on June 12.
Meanwhile, the MHADA informed the bench that it was facing shortage of staff due to the nation-wide lockdown and further assured that it would initiate proper action as soon as all restrictions are lifted.
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