The Bombay High Court on Friday rapped the BMC for requisitioning rehabilitation buildings to set up Covid-19 quarantine facilities, as per a May 31 circular, and maintained that it was prima facie “absolutely unjust and unfair” and taken with “scant consideration” to the plight of hundreds of persons awaiting completion of redevelopment works.
It went on to direct the civic body to file a detailed response, stating particulars of the buildings that had been requisitioned for isolation facilities, including their bed capacity and the number of individuals currently quarantined.
Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade were hearing a batch of pleas challenging BMC’s decision and seeking clarification on how long would the BMC keep the buildings – constructed under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority scheme and other modes – under its possession.
City developers, housing societies and other petitioners, through advocates Nilesh Gala and Karl Tamboly, had moved court after the BMC failed to inform them the duration for which it was taking possession of these buildings and the compensation it would provide.
On May 22, the HC had directed the BMC to file a reply in this regard in two weeks. However, the court on Friday noted that BMC did not comply with its direction.
It said that hundreds of families, who had handed over their original tenements to developers, had been residing in transit camps or in other accommodation, as the developers agreed to pay for their temporary alternate accommodation. It added that developers have taken several years to complete redevelopment work and also stopped paying for the temporary arrangements.
“Consequently, since most of the families faced financial constraints, it became impossible for them to pay the monthly compensation to the landlords/licensors, because of which they virtually landed on the streets,” the HC said.
It added, “This action (based on the May 31 circular) on part of the BMC prima facie appears to be absolutely unjust and unfair and done with scant regard or consideration to the plight of those people who have no roof to call their own.”
While directing the BMC to file a detailed affidavit by June 9, it also asked the petitioners to file a rejoinder to the same by June 12. “In the meantime, BMC shall maintain status quo as of today in respect of the premises forming the subject matter of all writ pleas.” The court posted the matter for further hearing on June 16.
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