SC directs Gujarat govt to hold notification easing buildings' safety rules

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Representative Image
Representative Image

New Delhi [India], August 27 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Gujarat government to keep in abeyance the July 8 notification issued by the Gujarat government restraining coercive action against the buildings having no building use permission.

The Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah said, "We expect the state of Gujarat to take all steps to ensure compliance in accordance with the rule of law."

Gujarat's move to ease hospital building safety rules amid COVID-19 did not go down well with the apex court and while putting the notification on hold, it observed, "Instead of saving people by pandemic we are killing people by fire. Even with building use permission, if a two-room place is converted to a hospital, you must take permission."

The Gujarat government's Urban Development and Urban Housing Department by its notification had given hospitals and nursing homes time till March 2022 to comply with the building use norms.

The Bench had earlier pulled up the Gujarat government for failing to follow its directions with regard to fire safety norms in hospitals, while referring to July 8 notification issued by the government extending deadline till June 2022 for hospitals to adhere to the norms to correct building bye-law violations.

The apex court today recorded that though the notification states that in the meantime, the defaulting entities shall immediately take corrective measures to comply with the regulations, within a period of three months, directions have been issued to all the local bodies in the state to take no coercive measures.

"At this stage, it does appear that taking cover of the COVID-19 pandemic, a benefit has been conferred on them and the notification is clearly ultra vires the provisions of section 122... Granting exemptions from complying with the development control regulations which are made in the interest of the public to promote the health safety and welfare of citizens is not contemplated, and less so in exercise of the powers conferred by section 122," the Bench said.

Earlier, the apex court had ordered fire-safety audits and other illegalities by hospitals across India after fires in COVID-19 dedicated hospitals in Gujarat and Maharashtra had killed scores of patients.

It had said that by December 18, 2020 judgment of this court, all states were directed to appoint nodal officers in each hospital to ensure fire safety norms are followed. COVID-19 hospitals who don't have NoC from fire department appropriate action was to be taken. On July 8, 2021 Gujarat government passed a notification extending deadline to June 2022.

The Supreme Court was hearing a suo motu case regarding proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals and issue concerning fire tragedies in COVID-19 hospitals across the country. (ANI)

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