Landslide tragedy: After plea dismissed, victim must start all over again after 35 years

Updated: Jun 26, 2020, 08:12 IST | Shirish Vaktania | Mumbai

Court dismisses 1985 landslide victim's plea as he hadn't sent notices to accused society and civic body while filing case

Arvind Boricha, plaintiff in the case
Arvind Boricha, plaintiff in the case

More than three decades after the incident, families of the 19 people who died in the landslide tragedy at Carmichael Hill continue to wait for justice. A Sessions Court recently disposed of the case of Arvind Boricha, 56, who lost seven members of his family to the tragedy. The court while dismissing the case said that Boricha had not sent a notice to the BMC leading to disposal of the case.

The incident took place on June 25, 1985, owing to torrential rain in the city that brought down a portion of the hill near the plush Usha Kiran building on Carmichael Road along with the retaining wall of the building's swimming pool. The mud and water killed 19 residents living below the MP Mills Compound.

"I was just 19 when I lost my mother, brother, two sisters and three very young nieces and nephew. My family was sleeping inside when the pool wall collapsed and fell down on the chawl," said Boricha who filed a case against Usha Kiran building in 1988. This building's swimming pool wall was illegal, an RTI later revealed. "I have spent more than R20 lakh on the case in the past 35 years," he added.

HC to Sessions Court

In September 2012, the High Court transferred the case to the Sessions Court which disposed of the case saying that the construction, repairs and maintenance of the wall was the society's duty. A notice under Section 164 of Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act (Notice necessary in suits in matters of business of society) should have, therefore, been given to the society and under Section 527 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act (negligence) to the BMC.

'Lakhs wasted'

Boricha further said that the BMC too had a building on the site. "It was made to re-house the chawl dwellers. If we had been given possession at that time, maybe this tragedy would have been avoided," said Boricha who now has to file a new application in the HC and "my case will restart because of this small issue (notice to the society)." He said, "I don't have knowledge of law. My case has been dismissed simply because I could not send a notice to the BMC. My R20 lakh have been wasted."

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