Observing that it had “feeling for the occupants (of unauthorised and dilapidated buildings) … that they may die”, the Bombay High Court (HC) questioned whether there was any provision of law that an entire unauthorised building can be regularized.
A division bench of Chief Justice (CJ) Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar questioned residents of two buildings from among the nine unauthorised buildings, which are also in dilapidated condition, in Mumbra in neighbouring Thane district which are facing demolition, on the provisions of law which allows regularisation of entire illegal buildings.
“We are willing to give you time to vacate unless you show that the building is authorized. You stand on the same footing (as other residents). You cannot get differential treatment,” said CJ Datta.
Earlier, the HC had asked the residents of the nine buildings to vacate their premises observing that it wanted citizens to live a “dignified life” and not in fear that their houses might collapse like a “pack of cards” in the rains. The HC had made the remarks while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by three students seeking demolition of the nine unauthorised buildings, in which several families were residing, to avoid any untoward incident or loss of life.
On Tuesday, the HC was hearing two applications filed by three residents – one from Diamond Park wing C and two residents of Farida Mansion – seeking permission to intervene in the PIL claiming that they were not heard before the demolition order was passed.
Their advocate, Mathews Nedumpara, argued that only a person who is aggrieved can come before the court. Alleging that it was gross abuse in the name of PIL, he said that a person comes and seeks demolition without adding the persons concerned as respondents.
The court then said that the residents must show the buildings were legal and have the necessary permissions. CJ Datta said, “You are telling us the writ petition is bad because of non-joinder of parties. This is a PIL where we are feeling for occupants that they may die. Show us the buildings have permission.”
The judges then went on to clarify that it can entertain three categories of PILs – where a person comes and says the fundamental right of a person or class of persons is being violated when the government by its action is destroying the environment and to maintain probity and transparency in governance.
On a court query about whether the buildings were authorized or unauthorised, Nedumpara said that they could seek “ratification”.
“Show us the law right now. Show us a provision (of law) that the entire unauthorised building can be ratified,” said CJ Datta.
The HC has asked the petitioners to file their reply to these applications and kept the matter for hearing on September 16.
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