Mumbai News

BMC requisitioning SRA buildings for Covid-19 isolation facility ‘unjust, unfair’: Bombay High Court – Hindustan Times

Bombay High Court has said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC’s) decision to requisition buildings constructed under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme for setting up temporary isolation facilities for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients was “absolutely unjust and unfair”.

The high court’s also said on Friday that BMC’s decision was taken without “scant consideration” on the plight of people who were awaiting allotment of the flats in these buildings.

The division bench of justice SJ Kathawalla and justice SP Tavade was hearing a clutch of petitions filed by developers and eligible allottees challenging a May 31 circular of the civic body under which it had started requisitioning vacant SRA buildings for setting up quarantine facilities.

The court directed BMC to maintain status quo for two weeks and directed it to file a detailed affidavit by June 9 setting out particulars of houses or buildings requisitioned for isolation facilities along with their bed capacity and the number of individuals quarantined at these facilities.

It also asked the petitioners to file a rejoinder to the same by June 12.

The advocates for the petitioners—Nilesh Gala, Vivek Shukla and Karl Tamboly—informed the court they were forced to approach it as the BMC had not informed them of the duration and the amount it would pay to the developers as compensation for requisitioning the buildings.

BMC failed to comply with a May 22 order of the bench directing the civic body to file an affidavit within two weeks indicating the duration and the compensation that would be paid to the developers.

“This action on the part of the MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) prima facie appears to be absolutely unjust and unfair and done with scant regard or consideration to the plight of those people who have no roof to call their own,” the bench said while referring to BMC’s May 31 circular.

It said that hundreds of families handed over their original tenements to developers and started residing in transit camps or in other accommodation procured on leave and license basis as developers had agreed to pay for their temporary alternate accommodation.

As developers took several years to complete the redevelopment work and also stopped paying for temporary arrangements, due to financial constraints many of these families virtually landed on the streets.

The bench further said that in view of these difficulties, the tenants in an individual capacity or through associations approached the courts and obtained necessary orders against developers or the civic body for ensuring immediate completion of redevelopment and restoration of roofs over their heads, which they had lost since the last several years.

In view of court directions, the redevelopment work was completed in several cases and completion or occupation certificates remained to be issued.

“Despite pathetic circumstances of such families who are longing to secure their legitimate roof over their heads, BMC, under the garb of May 31 circular started requisitioning the buildings for providing quarantine facilities and consequently original tenants or owners are deprived of their very own residence,” the bench observed.

The court has posted further hearing on the case on June 16.