'Unsafe For Human Habitation' - SC Dismisses Appeal Challenging Demolition Of Mumbai's 55-Year-Old Building
The Supreme Court has dismissed the plea challenging demolition of a 55-Year-old building in Mumbai while observing that the matter involved larger public interest.
The Bench of Chief Justice N.V.Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli noted that the building in question was in a ruinous condition which needed to be repaired at the earliest for the reason that it was unsafe for human habitation.
Brief facts of the case are that the building in question was constructed in 1967 and as per the provisions of Section 353(B) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 (MMC Act), it is obligatory for the owner and occupier of the building which is in use for more than 30 years, to have it inspected through the registered structural engineer with Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.
A structural audit of the said building was conducted. The building came to be categorised as most dangerous, in the structural audit report. It was observed that the structure was in a dangerous and dilapidated condition.
Therefore, it was declared that the building was required to be pulled down after being vacated by the occupants.
All the occupants of the flats in the building were put to notice for demolition of the existing building and to vacate the flats in their occupation.
Being aggrieved, the appellants, legal heirs of one of the flats in the building, approached the Bombay High Court. The High Court came to the conclusion that the building in question was ruinous, dilapidated and dangerous and unfit for human dwelling. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal.
Aggrieved, appellants approached Supreme Court.
Advocate Garvesh Kabra appeared for Municipal Corporation Of Greater Mumbai whereas Advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared for the Society. The Appellant appeared in person.
The Supreme Court was dismayed to note that the appellants had not set out anything specific in the Writ Petition demonstrating any perversity or manifest illegality in the satisfaction recorded by the Municipal Commissioner to invoke the powers of the High Court to interfere with the same.
Further, on the contention of the appellants that their right in the building will not be protected and get further affected after demolition of the building, the Court found the view unsustainable. The Court observed that the appellants will be paid displacement compensation by the respondent.
"…appellants have also been provided with alternate accommodation and the rights of the appellants will not be affected by virtue of demolition or evacuation in exercise of the power under Section 354 of the MMC Act. Not only the appellants, but other residents of the building will have a decent, safe and stable structure after the reconstruction of the building in question.", the Court noted.
"Judicial notice can be taken of various media reports reporting collapse of many old structures in Mumbai causing serious loss of human lives and limbs. By making interference of any sort in the matter at the behest of the appellants, in the existing facts and circumstances, we would not only be putting the life of the appellants and other residents of the building in jeopardy, but also hazarding the life and limb of the general public as well." the Court held while dismissing the appeal.
Cause Title- Ratilal S. Pujara Thr. His Lrs. & Ors. v. Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Corporation Of Greater Mumbai & Ors.