Shaky Bldgs Pose Danger To All In Vicinity, Not Just Owners & Occupants, ET RealEstate

September 14, 2023

MUMBAI: Paving the way for the demolition of a building at Andheri (W), the Bombay high court observed that it is a mistake to assume that the condition of a dilapidated structure only affects the owner and its occupants.

“That is far from the truth. Almost anywhere in Mumbai, a building collapse poses danger to others in the vicinity, including passersby. That is the larger interest to be served,” said Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata on Tuesday. They rejected the petition of Andheri Purab Paschim cooperative housing society located on Gilbert Hill Road.

The society — with two wings of ground-plus six and seven floors each — challenged the BMC’s demolition notice claiming the building is structurally sound and can be repaired. The technical advisory committee (TAC) held the building is in a deteriorated condition and in C-1 category, requiring it be evacuated and pulled down immediately.

The judges explained that where there are conflicting views on a building’s structural stability, unless the TAC report is shown to be vulnerable in law, a court cannot interfere at the behest of one party. It is not possible to substitute a TAC’s opinion with a court’s opinion. The judges said the housing society expects them to resolve the factual dispute about the structural condition of the building. “We are not structural engineers. We are not equipped to answer questions like these. That is why the whole edifice of the TAC was created,” they added.

The judges said the TAC comprises a body of experts from BMC itself, but this has unfortunately generated a “whole new species of litigation” where TAC’s opinion is seen as “administrative or quasi-judicial action” and therefore, its reports and recommendations are “perennially sought to be subjected to judicial review”.

BMC’s advocate said the building is in an “exceedingly dilapidated condition”. On February 15, a coordinate ben-ch had stayed BMC’s notice after the society undertook that the members “are residing in the building at their own risk” and “no one shall be held responsible for any mishap”. “This does not even begin to tell us what happens if a third party is affected…BMC will proceed in accordance with law,” the judges concluded.

  • Published On Sep 14, 2023 at 09:23 AM IST

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