The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit in reply to a PIL lodged in 2018 seeking the enforcement of draft regulations issued for fire safety in buildings vulnerable to man-made disasters. The draft regulations were formulated in 2009 in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks.
The court asked the state government to place on record whether the final notification is contemplated to be issued and give reasons if the same is not to be issued.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Vinay G Joshi was hearing a public interest litigation by activist Abha Singh – argued through advocate Aditya Pratap – which sought directions to the state government for the issuance of the final notification on Special Regulations for Building Vulnerable to Manmade Disasters.
The court noted that suggestions were invited on the draft regulations from members of the public through a notice dated February 27, 2009, but no positive step was taken thereafter, leading the petitioner to make a representation on January 15, 2018 seeking appropriate steps from the state Urban Development Department (UDD) to finalise the regulations.
The under-secretary of the UDD informed the petitioner about the action being taken by the government. However, as no steps were taken thereafter, the PIL was filed before the high court seeking directions to the state to issue a final notification.
The court noted that a coordinate bench of the high court had on October 4 accepted the state’s request to file a reply to the plea within ten days.
The state government’s lawyer, advocate Hiten S Venegaokar, admitted that he failed to communicate the order to the relevant department and sought a two-week extension to put in a reply to the plea.
The bench said it was “appalled” at the manner in which the state delayed the matter and noted, “Reluctantly, we grant the state ten days’ time to file an affidavit and place on record whether the final notification is contemplated to be issued, if not, reasons therefore must be indicated. The petitioner would have a week’s time to file rejoinder.”