Mumbai: Observing that at times additions and alterations were are made to buildings without approval from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday that it will consider passing a direction that the entire record relating to every construction project in Mumbai is available on the citizens’ portal of BMC’s website.
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Gauri Godse said it will consider passing a direction to the authorities concerned that the entire record relating to every construction project in Mumbai is made available on the citizens’ portal of BMC website.
The court said: “Every scrap of paper, every single document will be uploaded.”
The HC was hearing a petition concerning construction of six-storey building at Turner Road, Bandra (West) where a developer tampered with two reinforced concrete cement (RCC) columns in the basement endangering its structural safety.
The judges said that they will need to consider various issues while deciding the plea. It said that the BMC, as public and planning authority under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966, is required to ensure its entire record relating to every construction project is publicly available on its website keeping the Right to Information Act and Indian Evidence Act in mind.
Referring to various Supreme Court judgements, the HC said it will also have to consider whether an illegality in construction can be regularised. Justice Patel referred to recent remark by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta where, during a hearing in a PIL, he asked whether there was any provision of law which allowed the BMC to regularise an unauthorised construction.
The advocate for the BMC had argued that the corporation had sanctioned the developer’s amended plans as a part of its ease of doing business policy.
To this Justice Patel remarked: “You in the BMC have adopted this policy, contrary to every principle and canon of law, that an illegality can be regularized. This so-called ease of doing business policy!”
As far as Daulat House is concerned, the HC has directed the BMC’s technical advisory committee (TAC) to evaluate the precise condition of the building and submit a report in two weeks. TAC has been directed to get a structural audit done by an auditor empanelled by BMC and its members are entitled to make a site inspection.
The petition by a co-owner Imtiaz Bangdiwalla contended that his family had entered into a redevelopment agreement in 2014 with M K Builders and Developers. It alleged that the developer made several additions and alterations without BMC approval.
It prayed that the BMC be directed to take necessary action.
The court noted that a BMC officer, during inspection, found that there was unauthorised tampering and chipping of two RCC column in the basement thereby endangering the stability of the building. The officer also learnt that the building was unauthorisedly occupied and there was illegal construction on the 5th and 6th floors of the building.
The corporation issued a stop work notice. The court said that the unauthorised tampering of RCC columns was the immediate concern.
Interestingly, the BMC file showed that structural audit report by M P Prime Structures Pvt Ltd which stated that there were some alterations, but the same would not endanger stability of the structure.
The court remarked that the BMC, through a qualified officer, was expected to examine the structural audit report to see if it fully addressed the concerns.