A plea seeking an immediate crackdown on illegal hotels, which are also being booked through online platforms and operating without clearances or safety measures, was filed before the Delhi High Court Tuesday.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao issued notice to the Delhi government and the three MCDs, seeking their stand by March 13.
The plea, filed by advocate Arpit Bhargava, alleged that community halls or ‘barat ghars’ are violating safety norms. He added that city’s hotels are flouting rules as well, including Hotel Arpit Palace, where17 people died in a fire.
The PIL claimed that wedding halls are running without safety norms and are a threat to the lives of people attending events there. With regard to community halls, the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) had informed the court that illegal ‘barat ghars’ are not checked by it for fire safety.
The DFS had said it considers only those cases which are referred to it by local agencies — including the MCDs, DDA, NDMC — and inspects them for fire safety before issuing a certificate.
The petitioner alleged that despite the court’s intervention, as well as a newspaper report about banquet halls flouting licence rules, no action has been taken by the North MCD, under whose jurisdiction Hotel Arpit Palace falls.
“That over the years, due to widespread corruption and inimical attitude of respondents (Delhi government and three MCD) in ensuring safety of lives of public at large and ensuring compliance with fire safety norms and such other norms for community halls/banquet halls and other buildings across Delhi, the situation has worsened to the extent that even hotels, guesthouses and other such places are found running in violation of laws in particular fire safety norms,” the plea alleged.
It urged the court that “urgent remedial” measures be taken on a “war footing so as to ensure no such incident like the Hotel Arpit one is repeated and no human life is lost,” and demanded that “adequate compensation” be paid to the families of those who lost their lives in the blaze.