In a relief for the residents of Shahid Bhagat Singh Co-operative Society in Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Nagar of Central Mumbai, the Bombay High Court directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to restore the electricity and water supply to the building that was declared dilapidated and its residents were ordered to vacate the same. The supply was allegedly cut by authorities during the lockdown declared by the state in view of COVID-19 outbreak.
Justice A A Sayed was hearing through videoconferencing a plea filed by the society through advocate Anand Jondhale seeking directions to the BMC to immediately reconnect the supply.
The court was informed that the petitioner society with 23 families is one of the 25 buildings situated in Panjabi Colony in GTB Nagar, which had been time to time protected by the HC orders from disconnecting water and electricity after submitting the relevant undertaking before the Court.
The petitioners stated that before the nationwide lockdown was declared on March 24, the government of Maharashtra had begun partial lockdown in the city on March 20. After the state’s announcement, the officers of the BMC, on same day secretly disconnected water and electricity supply of the society, the plea claimed.
The petitioner society also stated that civic bodies were directed by HC not to take any coercive action against any building in the form of dispossession or disconnection of power and water supply.
Four-judge bench led by Chief Justice Bhushan P Dharmadhikari of the Bombay High Court on March 26 had ordered that all interim orders passed by courts across Maharashtra and Goa, which are in operation, shall continue until April 30 in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The HC had also said that orders for eviction, dispossession, and demolition already passed by the courts will also remain in abeyance until April 30.
Despite the said order, the residents are deprived of supplies during the lockdown period and therefore it needs to be restored on an urgent basis until disposal of the plea, claimed the society.
Granting interim relief to the society, the bench directed the Brihanmumbai Electrical Supply and Transport (BEST) and BMC to reconnect electrical and water supply respectively in view of COVID-19 lockdown.
The Court in its order said, “As soon as lockdown period is over, the said 23 families shall vacate their respective premises and building within four days from the date of lifting of the lockdown.”
The court clarified that petitioner society would not be entitled to seek any extension of time. “This order is passed in view of the extraordinary situation prevailing and shall not absolve the society and its members of being proceeded against te breach of undertaking given by them in 20018.”
Moreover, the court noted that the building is in dilapidated state and 23 families would reside in it during the lockdown period at their own risk. The bench posted it for further hearing on April 15.
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