Legal experts have criticized the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) over the collapse of Shankarlok building in Vakola, saying that the civic authority should have overcome the hurdles to resolve the matter urgently.
The BMC planned to demolish the building which was found to be "in a ruinous and dangerous state", but it could not do so as the Bombay High Court stayed any action in March 2010 on a petition by one of the residents, U Saraswati Sridharan, who is a lawyer.
While granting the stay, the high court had asked the BMC to explain as to how the life of a building could be just 26 years and to file an affidavit on this with other details necessary in the matter.
"Considering that the building was reconstructed sometime in June 1982, it is impossible to imagine that unless sub-standard material was used, the building would have a shell life of 26 years," the judges noted.
Majeed Memon, noted criminal lawyer and NCP member of parliament, said the civic body should have acted with urgency. "The BMC was expected to have appreciated the delicateness and urgency of the matter and should have filed the affidavit much earlier," Memon said.
Advocate Ganesh Sovani said that the responsibility would have to be fixed on authorities concerned. "The corporation's approach has been lackadaisical. The matter concerned the safety and security of people. Hence the BMC should have been more proactive," said Sovani.
Besides the BMC's approach, questions are also being raised as to why the court granted the stay in the first place when the civic body had declared the structure was in a "ruinous and dangerous state".
Memon said that by not filing the affidavit the BMC had kept the court in the dark with regard to the extent of the gravity of the situation. "This could be one of the factors that led to the tragedy in which seven persons died," Memon added.
Sovani explained that the courts usually consider several aspects when passing an order. "The courts have to consider the humanitarian aspect with regard to the hardships of persons involved in the case," he said.
Seven people died and four others were injured when the seven-storey building collapsed on Friday.
The Vakola police have registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the developer, Sridharan the lawyer and a civic official concerned with the case.