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BMC can’t cut water,power supply before evicting residents of shaky buildings: HC

The court said the disconnection of water and power in advance “is totally unjust,unacceptable and shows (the) inhuman approach of the local bodies”.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Mumbai |
December 25, 2013 1:18:21 am

In an order that will impact eviction of tenants from dilapidated buildings,the Bombay High Court recently ruled that local bodies cannot disconnect water or power supply of the building in advance to vacate it.

The court said the disconnection of water and power in advance “is totally unjust,unacceptable and shows (the) inhuman approach of the local bodies”. Instead of providing basic amenities to the residents,the local bodies deprive them these — as provided under Article 21 of the Constitution of India — only because an eviction notice has been issued to them and the corporation has the power to take the necessary steps to evacuate it,the court said.

“Water and electricity,if are essential part of life,such disconnection ‘to hasten up the evacuation process’ in my view,is impermissible,” Justice Anoop V Mohta said.

The case before the court was that of Manjul Darshan building in Borivali (East). In May,the civic body had issued a notice to the 56-year-old building under section 354 of the BMC Act. The BMC’s counsel Anil Sakhare said the owner had sought a structural stability certificate from the Sardar Patel College,which stated that the building was beyond repair and would have to be pulled down. The BMC carried out an inspection of the building and issued a notice of eviction.

However,the Manjul Darshan Tenants Welfare Association (MDTWA) moved court soon after,and owing to the pending litigation,the BMC had taken no steps for evacuation of the 25-26 families living in the building. The MDTWA,occupants of the privately-owned structure,had moved court seeking alternative accommodation.

However,on November 22,the BMC disconnected the water supply of the building and the MDTWA alleged that the corporation also threatened to disconnect electricity.

Arguing for the MDTWA,senior counsel Anil Singh told the court that none of the provisions in law that gave the BMC the power to evacuate a building,let it take away basic amenities like water and electricity. The court said amenities like water and electricity can be disconnected only when a team is at the spot to evacuate residents of the building and not prior to that.

The HC,however,said if residents of a dangerous building that is issued a notice by the BMC,stay put,it would be at their own risk.

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