Bombay HC refuses to grant relief to Campa Cola residents facing demolition

The residents on Monday approached the Bombay High Court seeking relief against the notice, but their plea was denied.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had, on February 27, upheld an order passed by the civic body in December, 2005 for demolition of illegal floors built on the seven buildings in the Campa Cola compound at Worli. The residents have moved the apex court with a review petition but the BMC issued a notice to the society on Friday, directing the concerned residents to vacate their homes.

According to the corporation, construction above the fifth floor was illegal. The seven buildings in the society have six to 20 floors.

Campa Cola compound
Tempos at Campa Cola compound in Worli being loaded with household items such as television sets, refrigerators and cupboards as residents have been forced to vacate their homes. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Two petitions were filed in the high court seeking relief -- one by residents staying in flats up to fifth floor (legal flats) and another by residents living in the illegal flats.

Appearing for the first group, senior counsel M P Rao argued that although his clients have not been directed to be demolished, any demolition would endanger the lives of all residents since the buildings are over 25-years-old.

Senior counsel Rajendra Pai, representing the second batch of petitioners, said the civic body should give the residents time before asking them to evict. BMC counsel S U Kamdar told the court that a structural engineer was appointed to inspect the building and submit his recommendations.

"The demolition will not be done in one go. It will be a phase-wise demolition and precaution will be taken that legal flats (upto 5th floor) are not damaged," he said.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and A R Joshi said that since the Supreme Court had upheld the demolition order and a review petition has been filed by the residents, relief if any can be only given by the apex court.

"The Supreme Court in its order has specifically said that demolition shall be done at the earliest and that the state government or civic body shall not create any hurdle to its order. In these circumstances, the high court cannot interfere. We cannot grant any relief," Justice Oka said, adding that the residents could approach the apex court.

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