Complaint by a representative building occupant against a running commercial establishment violating law in the complex is Public Interest Litigation : SC

Complaint by a representative building occupant against a running commercial establishment violating law in the complex is Public Interest Litigation : SC

In a very strictly worded judgment, a bench of Justices V.Gopala Gowda and C.Nagappan ordered a pathological lab running in a residential complex in the name of a nursing home to be shifted to an alternative premise within 4 weeks and scolded the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for laxity in its approach.

The SLP was filed against the orders passed by a Single Bench and the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court. The matter pertains to a challenge to running of a Pathological Lab violating various norms in form of a writ petition filed before the High Court. The appellant is a resident of the complex where the lab was run by Resp 6 & 7 in the ground floor, first floor and the mezzanine floor. The Lab employed around 50 people, 25 ACs, 2 Diesel Generators and caused lot of parking problems plus disposal of hazardous waste.  Various Complaints were made to MCD as Resp 1 and SHO of the area as Resp 2 among others. Infact during pendency of the writ petition, a Regularization Certificate was granted to the lab. The challenge to this Certificate was rejected by the High Court in the revised fresh writ petition.

Denying that an amicable settlement can be allowed in disputes of such nature, the bench speaking through Justice Gowda rejected the contention that the petition was not in the nature of a public interest as public at large was affected. The judgment records that even after several complaints, no action was taken by the MCD. According to the sanctioned building plan, the basement and the mezzanine floor could only be used for storage purpose and nothing else. The bench also noted in oara 29 that counsel for respondents i.e. Indu Malhotra, K.K.Venugopal and L.Nageshwar Rao made a submission with mala fide intention that no mezzanine floor existed in the building. The Regularization Certificate was found in contravention of Building Bye Laws and MPD-2021.(Master Plan) The bench noted that the property does not come under Mixed Use where it is allowed to use complex for such purposes. It was strictly pointed out that the Certificate even if considered valid was granted only to run a nursing home but not a pathological lab. It was concluded that the Regularization Certificate was invalid in the eyes of law. It was also judged that the whole establishment by Resp 6 & 7 violated principles of the Environment Protection Act, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act by not complying with the safety measures.

The conclusion was recorded as –

“53. For the reasons stated supra, the appeal is allowed and the impugned judgments and orders of both the learned single Judge and Division of the High Court are hereby set aside and Regularisation Certificate is quashed and rule is issued. Further, directions are issued to the respondents MCD and DPCC to see that the unlawful activities of the respondent-owners are stopped as per our directions. The respondent-owners are directed to close down their establishment of running ‘Dr. Dang’s Diagnostic Centre’ within four weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of this Judgment by shifting the same to alternative premises and submitting the compliance report for the perusal of Page 50 50 this Court. If the respondent-owners do not comply with the above directions of this Court within four weeks, the MCD is directed to take necessary prompt steps for sealing or closing down of all the activities undertaken by them in the premises of concerned building and submit the compliance report for the perusal of this Court. All the I.A.s are disposed of accordingly. No costs.”

Read the Judgment here.