The Bombay High Court has asked the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) to formulate or frame guidelines with regard to ongoing constructions and use of cranes in high-rise buildings or sites.

The Court said that it is high time that the BMC gives special attention to the safety requirements in the above regard.

A Division Bench comprising Justice G.S. Kulkarni and Justice R.N. Laddha held, “We are certain that in the event, the Municipal Corporation formulates any guidelines and intends to issue appropriate directives, the Urban Development Department of the State Government shall act upon any such proposal of the Municipal Corporation with utmost expediency. Considering the urgency of the issue, we would expect the Secretary, Urban Development Department to pay special attention to such concern of the Corporation considering the larger public interest.”

The Bench further said that there is a need to urgently think about measures and solutions for all times to come and not let any incidents happen in relation to construction.

“We are certain that the Municipal Commissioner would look into these issues so that appropriate directives/guidelines in this regard are issued to be made applicable to the ongoing constructions of such nature and that the constructions sites are monitored”, observed the Court.

Senior Advocate Prateek Seksaria and Advocate Mridul Sharma appeared on behalf of the petitioner while Senior Advocates Narendra V. Walalwalkar and Zal Andhyarujina appeared on behalf of the respondents.

Brief Facts

A petition was preferred regarding the safety measures to be adopted in the construction of super high-rise buildings. The trigger to such a petition was an unfortunate incident, which had taken place on February 14, 2023, arising from the high-rise construction being undertaken by the respondent in respect of its project “Four Seasons Private Residences Phase I and Phase II.

The terrible incident was the falling of a large cement block from the 52nd floor of the building which was under construction, which instantly killed two innocent persons, who were outside the premises of the respondent. The grievance of the petitioner was in regard to the suspended crane installed by the respondent on its project, the operation of which according to the petitioner was likely to endanger human lives, in the event of any negligence and/or inappropriate handling or any other cause which may arise therefrom.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “It can never be countenanced that innocent lives are lost even by accidents of such nature caused by objects falling from a suspended crane located at an enormous height, which a person on the ground may ordinarily not notice, as the one installed at the site of respondent no. 2.”

The Court said that it was deeply pained to note such an incident and hoped that none of the high-rise constructions in the city of Mumbai should make people vulnerable and prone to such accidents, in which innocent people would get hurt or lose their lives.

“We firmly believe that a right of a person to move freely, in places which are not actual construction sites, if are threatened by a fear of being killed or hurt, this would certainly amount to violation of one’s fundamental right to livelihood, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution”, the Court further said.

The question before the Court was whether there is any inspection, approval, and certification of the operation of such cranes by any recognized specialized agency which may be appointed by the developers.

The Court asserted, “Be that as it may, getting wiser from the recent incident, there is a need to urgently think on measures and solutions for all times to come and not let such incidents happen in relation to constructions of such nature, either on the site of respondent no. 2 or anywhere else.”

The Court also directed to form a committee along with the representatives of both parties and said that the Municipal Commissioner shall nominate the concerned officer by March 13, 2023.

Accordingly, the Court disposed of the writ petition.

Cause Title- Lokhandwala Residency Towers Cooperative Housing Society Ltd. v. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai & Anr.

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