The Bombay High Court has ruled that a civic body has no right to disconnect water and electric supply to a dilapidated building before the process of evacuation begins. "Such action can only be taken at the time of evacuation and not in advance," Justice Anoop Mohata said on December 21 while hearing a petition filed by Manjul Darshan Building Tenants Welfare Association in suburban Borivali.
The petitioner had challenged the action of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to disconnect water and electricity to the building in order to evacuate the occupants as it was in a dilapidated condition.
The occupants/tenants unless evicted in accordance with law, are entitled to basic amenities such as water and electricity uninterruptedly. This in no way obstructs and/or can be stated to be a hurdle in way of the corporation's power and/or local authorities' power to take action of evacuation after due notice, said the judge.
"The advance disconnection in such fashion, in my view, is totally unjust, unacceptable and shows inhuman approach of the local bodies, one who instead of providing the amenities to the citizens, merely because eviction notices are issued and they have a power to take such necessary steps, by this method are compelling the occupants to vacate the premises", the judge observed.
This is nothing but taking away the rights of the citizen/occupants to use the necessary amenities like water and electricity, which is otherwise available and provided under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the judge said.
"Water and electricity are essential part of life. Such disconnection to hasten up the evacuation process in my view, is impermissible," the judge ruled.
The court directed the municipal corporation to connect the water supply forthwith. BMC was also restrained from disconnecting electricity without due and proper notice.
However, the court made it clear that the continuation of the stay of the occupants/tenants in such dilapidated building, inspite of the notices by the corporation, will be at their risk and the consequences. The corporation officers will not be responsible, in case of any mishap.