The Bombay High Court Tuesday questioned how the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) could convert private toilets into public toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission. A division bench of A S Oka and Riyaz Iqbal Chagla was hearing a writ petition filed by owners of various petrol pumps in Mumbai along with the petrol pump association. They were seeking a stay on a notice issued by the civic body on December 22, 2017, under which the BMC had put up signboards across all such stations informing the public to utilise the toilets at petrol pumps.”
“It is your obligation to build toilets (under Swachh Bharat Mission). While you do not do that, instead you make private toilets into public toilets,” said Justice Oka. According to the petitioners, they have been “directed to make toilets available in their petrol pump premises for the use of general public free of cost under the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission,’ and put up signboards to that effect.” “What is the source of power that allows the BMC to claim that toilets inside a petrol pump are public toilets?” questioned the court.
The counsel for the BMC said she was relying on the Swachh Bharat Mission under which they had decided to issue such a notice after meeting with petrol pump owners and the association. “A meeting was held and the petitioners had allowed us to use these toilets for public purpose during emergencies,” said the counsel.
Justice Oka said action under the Swachh Bharat Mission had to be in accordance with law. “Which law can allow you to make private toilets into public toilets,” Justice Oka asked. “You cannot put up boards outside their properties saying the toilets in their premises are public toilets. How can you do that following the Swachh Bharat Mission. Show us where it says so,” said the court.
The court said, “You cannot do this. Take instructions that you will not do this in a private property. The Swachh Bharat Mission cannot affect the rights of others like this. You cannot put up boards without the consent of the petrol pump owners. You will have to remove the boards wherever it is required otherwise we will have to pass relevant orders,” said the high court.