The landowner or developer of highly dangerous and dilapidated buildings (categorised as C-1 by the BMC) will be required to provide accommodation to all occupants in the new redeveloped structure till the court takes a decision on its legality.
These occupants may be liable for eviction thereafter, if the courts find their occupancy or tenancy unauthorised, said an amendment proposed in the BMC’s suggested guidelines to deal with residents of such dangerous structures.
The civic body has introduced an amendment to the guidelines framed for dealing with residents of dangerous structures. The amendment came after several questions were raised on Friday in an ongoing Bombay High Court proceeding on the rights of tenants/occupants and landowners/developers of publicly and privately-owned C-1 category buildings. In the present guidelines, the civic body proposes disallowing redevelopment on the premises of a demolished privately-owned dilapidated building, until a suitable agreement between landowners/developers and tenants/occupants is filed with the BMC. In Mumbai, at present there are 1,236 C-1 category dilapidated buildings, of which 828 are privately-owned.
A division bench of Justice Anoop V Mohta and A A Sayyed observed that while the proposed guidelines protected the rights of bonafide occupants/tenants, there were no provisions to protect the rights of unauthorised residents. “We will now add a line to this clause stating that the demolition of the building will in no way affect the on-going legal disputes in various courts so that it is not susceptible to mischief,” senior counsel E P Bharucha, appearing for the BMC, told the HC. “If the courts find the residents are unauthorised after redevelopment permissions are given, then, even if an agreement has been signed by the said residents, they will no longer be eligible for rehabilitation in the new redeveloped structure,” he added.
Referring to the guidelines as a narrow order in public interest, Darius Khambatta, Advocate General of the state, added that while the guidelines sought to carry out demolition of dangerous structures without affecting the on-going legal matters, they also gave tenants/occupants a higher protection and right than what the current laws envisaged.
Justice Mohta observed that the guidelines only dealt with the commercial aspect of C-1 dilapidated structures in its clause, which mandates commencement certificates (CC) be withheld until an agreement with tenants/occupants is filed with the BMC. “Who takes responsibility for rehabilitating residents if landlords do not come forward to do it?” asked Justice Mohta.
BMC senior counsel S U Kamdar argued that the law did not obligate the civic body to give alternate accommodation to residents of privately-owned C-1 structures. Justice Sayyed also observed that the guidelines did not specify the procedures to be followed in a structural audit for categorising a building as C-1. “There has to be more specific methods to determine C-1 classification than merely visual inspection,” Justice Sayyed observed. After asking the BMC to carry out the amendments, the court has posted the matter to June 16.