The Bombay High Court on Tuesday restrained the Vakola police from taking any coercive action against lawyer Sindha Shreedharan, charged with culpable homicide following the collapse of the seven-storey Shankarlok building in Vakola, saying she cannot be held solely responsible for the tragedy. The HC also asked the police not take any action against BMC officials.
A division bench of Justices Anoop V Mohta and MS Sonak gave four weeks to the civic body, the developer and the state government to file their pleadings in response to petitions filed by Shreedharan.
While one of the petition seeks an inquiry be conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on how the corporation declared the building 'dilapidated' and then auctioned it to the developer, the second petition pertains to challenging the demolition notice issued by the civic body.
Shreedharan, an advocate practising in the Bombay HC, occupied a tenement on the ground floor of the building. Her sister was killed in the mishap while her brother was injured. Seven people had lost their lives in the tragedy.
The police have registered a case under section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and several other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code against three persons.
Counsel Anil Sakhare, appearing for the corporation, said, "It should not be considered that the BMC did not act, anticipating that the building was in a dilapidated condition in 2006. We had issued notices. Even after the petitioner had got an injunction order from the HC in 2010, we had moved an application in 2013; to vacate the stay and then the court had noted that the tenants were living at their own risk. But the application was not finally decided."
However, the court raised doubts about the follow up action taken by the BMC, "How are you blaming the petitioner (Shreedharan), for the collapse? Why did you wait for three years to move the court to vacate the stay if you were of the opinion that the building would collapse anytime? Why no action should be initiated against the BMC officials?"
The HC adjourned the hearing by four weeks.