Wadala Water Tank Drowning: Was Razing Shanty Of Deceased BMC’s Reprisal?

Wadala Water Tank Drowning: Was Razing Shanty Of Deceased BMC’s Reprisal?

The judges, however, clarified that they are not reaching any conclusion before hearing the matter. Hence, they sought to know if demolition was scheduled and prior notice was issued.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, April 08, 2024, 10:43 PM IST
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Wadala Water Tank Drowning: Was Razing Shanty Of Deceased BMC’s Reprisal? | Vijay Gohil

Mumbai: Taking a serious view of the BMC razing the shanty of Manoj Wagari, whose two minor sons drowned in an open water tank in Wadala civic garden on March 18, the Bombay High Court has asked the civic body to explain whether it was a scheduled demolition or a reprisal that ensued after the court took cognisance of the tragic deaths.

The judges, however, clarified that they are not reaching any conclusion before hearing the matter. Hence, they sought to know if demolition was scheduled and prior notice was issued.

“Tell us if this was a planned removal. Family is already under tragedy and trauma. It comes across that the BMC is piling it on top of it,” a bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata on Monday. The HC, on April 1, had taken a suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the deaths, questioning the responsibilities and liabilities of the civic body. A day later, the corporation demolished the alleged unauthorised structure where the next of the kin of the deceased lived.

The bench has directed the BMC to file two separate affidavits, including one by April 19, placing on record exact details regarding the demolition. The municipality has to file a second affidavit placing on record it's standard operating procedure (SOP), if any, whenever it takes up work involving digging or creating a “potentially dangerous” situation for the public. “Widely divergent legal consequences will follow if there is or is not in place an SOP,” the bench said.

The BMC was represented by senior advocate Anil Singh. The boys’ father was present in court. When the judges asked him, he stated his name as Majoj Wagari and was identified by his Aadhaar card. The court said that the issue of compensation would have to be decided.

“What has befallen upon these parents is unimaginable for any parent. We are not suggesting that by pushing some money their grief will be met… We just want him to know that in law he is entitled to compensation,” the HC said. The court asked amicus curiae (friend of court), senior Advocate Sharan Jagtiani and Advocate Mayur Khandeparkar, to convey legal rights to Wagari.

The judges also told State Advocate General Birendra Saraf that some sort of structure for payment of compensation must be devised by the state. “Our anxiety is that if you don’t have a structure the liability will be open ended. Some basis has to be there on which compensation part can be reasonably done,” Justice Patel said.

When Saraf said that sometimes the press writes things without verifying, Justice Patel quipped, “Press does what press has to do. We will do what we have to. They are bringing matters to attention.”

The bench added that it is not concerned with the matters of removal of shanties or unauthorised construction. “It really doesn’t matter to us that there may be unauthorised occupants.. we are only concerned with loss of human lives.”

Before concluding, the judges told Wagari, “Aap be fikar rahiye. Yeh (amicus curiae) aapke saath hain,” which means don't worry, they are with you. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on April 23.

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