Consider tribunal to hear cases on illegal buildings:HC to Mah

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Mumbai, Jan 13 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Wednesday suggested formation of a separate tribunal by the Maharashtra government to hear cases pertaining to illegal constructions so that timely action is taken against such buildings and untoward incidents like collapse can be averted.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation taken suo motu (on its own) by the high court in September 2020 following the collapse of a building in Bhiwandi in Thane district that claimed 38 lives.

The HC had at that time directed the Maharashtra government and all civic bodies across the state to inform it about steps being taken to keep a check on illegal constructions and dilapidated buildings in their respective areas.

The bench noted on Wednesday that unfortunately there is no will on part of the corporations to keep a check on such buildings.

'There is illegality and dereliction of duty on part of the civic body officials. We don't know where we are heading. All ward officers must be sensitised on what their duties are in such cases. The will of the corporations is important. Human life should not be so cheap,' Justice Kulkarni said.

The bench said that the whole system is organised, and when a corporation notices any illegal construction or dilapidated building a notice is sent following which the society or developer approaches the civil court in a suit and manages to get a stay on the notice.

'Even when no stay is granted by the civil court, we have noticed that the corporation then does not take any follow up action on the notice. Then the matter just stays stagnated for years,' the HC said.

The bench then suggested the state government to set up a separate tribunal to hear such matters so that the burden on civil courts is reduced and matters can be heard and decided faster.

'There are tribunals for so many things. This too is an important issue. The state government should consider a tribunal for this too,' Justice Kulkarni said.

Chief Justice Datta then said West Bengal had a separate tribunal to hear matters pertaining to buildings.

The HC directed all the corporations and district councils in Maharashtra to submit ward-wise data of how many unauthorised constructions are there in their respective ward and how many litigations are pending pertaining to the same.

The matter is posted for further hearing on March 3.