It is not mandatory for the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to conduct specified tests in every case to ascertain structural stability of a building, the Bombay High Court has ruled, while giving four weeks’ time to the residents of Munshi Bhavan in Andheri (West) to vacate the dilapidated building so that same can be pulled down.
“It is not mandatory for TAC to conduct specified tests in every case since tests are to be conducted as may be considered necessary by TAC,” said Justice Sandeep Marne. “In the present case, TAC has noticed that the structure has failed in various tests as per the reports of both the structural audits. In that view of the matter, fresh conduct of tests through TAC is not at all warranted.”
Petition filed by Munshi Bhavan Welfare Association Mumbai
The HC was hearing a petition filed by the Munshi Bhavan Welfare Association Mumbai challenging the October 2020 passed by the City Civil Court dismissing their suit against the notice issued by the BMC.
The BMC, on August 7, 2020, issued a notice under Section 354 (Removal of structures, etc, which are in ruins or likely to fall) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act. Even prior to the notice, the BMC had issued a notice under Section 353-B of the Act calling for a Structural Stability Certificate, said BMC advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Smita Tondwalkar.
Structural audit carried out
The owners and occupants carried out a structural audit through their respective structural auditors. The structural audit report submitted by the owner classified the structure into C-1 category for immediate evacuation and demolition. Whereas, the structural audit report of the occupants classified the building into C-2A category for evacuation and partial demolition required for major structural repairs.
Kapadia said that considering the conflicting structural audit reports, the case was referred to TAC, which conducted a visual inspection on July 22, 2020. After going through both the structural audit reports and visual inspection, the TAC concluded that the parameters of the structural audit reports of both the consultants were not conforming to the provisions of IS Code (Indian Standard Code). It recommended that Munshi Bhavan falls in C-1 category and should be vacated and pulled down immediately as the said building is unsafe for habitation.
Vivek Kantawala, counsel for the residents’ association submitted that since TAC has rejected both the audit reports, an independent structural auditor like IIT Bombay or VJTI should be appointed to get the real picture.
Justice Marne, however, observed that as per the Act, it is not mandatory for TAC to conduct specified tests in every case. The HC then dismissed the petition saying that the same is “devoid of merits”.
The HC refused to extend the stay granted on November 9, 2020 but granted four weeks to the residents to vacate the premises.