Irked over non-compliance of its February 2022 order on unauthorised constructions, the Bombay High Court on Friday warned municipal commissioners across Maharashtra of contempt notices in case of inaction.
On February 26, the HC had called for stern measures so that people don’t lose lives due to building collapses. The court had ruled that officers concerned will be held responsible and will be booked for dereliction of duties under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.
In the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by three students seeking demolition of nine unauthorised residential buildings in Mumbra, Thane, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar directed the assistant municipal commissioner of the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) to file an affidavit detailing steps taken by him. He has also been asked to identify all unauthorised structures in the area and affix notices that they would form subject matter of the PIL. The next hearing in the matter is on September 26.
The petitioners’ advocate Neeta Karnik also pointed to the June 26 judgment asking the assistant municipal commissioner to file a report showing compliance. She listed 226 such constructions and said that a building collapsed on August 13.
Meanwhile, the petitioner students have listed the relevant directions of the court’s February judgment, asking the corporations to inform the Urban Development Department on the number of illegal constructions in their jurisdiction and action being taken against them. The municipal commissioners have been asked to review illegal buildings in every ward between the 25th and the 30th of every month.
As per the affidavit, “rampant unauthorised construction” is underway in various wards. “Such construction is always devoid of any identification with no boards, banners or names being displayed anywhere. In such circumstances, it is not possible for a common person to find out who is responsible for them,” reads the affidavit.
Earlier, three residents of an affected Mumbra building had sought intervention in the PIL. However, as per the petitioners’ affidavit the names of residents don’t tally with the survey report of the TMC.