The Bombay High Court directed that the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) be impleaded as a party to a petition seeking that the heritage Esplanade building in South Mumbai be repaired.
A portion of the facade of the building had collapsed earlier this week.
The building that houses several small shops, and offices of lawyers from the HC and the city civil and sessions court, has been in a dilapidated condition for years now.
In 2015, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) had served eviction notices to all the tenants in the building.
However, the tenants, led by advocate Ashok Sarogi who has an office in the building, had secured a stay from the high court on the notice after they told the court that they would continue occupying the building at “their own risk.
On Wednesday, MHADA informed the bench of Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudesai that around 15 families who were co-owners of the building and 208 tenants were still occupying the building.
Sarogi told the bench that the tenants were not opposed to repair work for the building, but the same required permission of the MHCC.
The owners of the building, who as per MHADA, are liable to carry out the repair work, told the bench that the MHCC was insisting that the building be repaired and restored using material such as cast iron and other things used in the original construction work in the 1860s.
This would make the repair work very expensive, the landlords of the building said.
The bench, however, observed that it was imperative that the authorities took a decision on the repair work soon to avoid any “disaster” in the future.
The judges said that once the MHCC was made a party to the plea, it could inform the court of what could be done to ensure the safety of the building and its occupants.
“We are only interested in ensuring no loss of life takes place. What if tomorrow the whole building collapses? The authorities need to avoid such disaster,” they said.