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Authorities playing with citizens' lives: SC on fire safety in Khan Market

Press Trust of India/New Delhi 05 Dec 18 | 07:40 PM

Khan market, New Delhi | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Authorities are "playing with the lives of citizens" by not enforcing fire safety measures in restaurants operating in Delhi's posh Khan market, the Supreme Court said Wednesday while observing that court orders impacting the rich don't get implemented.

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"Where it relates to the poor people, the orders are implemented and where it relates to the rich people, it is not implemented. This is not fair," said a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta.

The bench made this observation while hearing a matter related to sealing of unauthorised constructions in the national capital.

During the hearing, the bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, to find out from special task force (STF) as to what they were doing about Khan market.

STF was constituted in April following the apex court's order to oversee enforcement of laws on illegal construction and monitor the removal of encroachments.

After taking instructions, Nadkarni said there were two aspects about Khan market, one related to encroachment there and other about fire safety.

He said the authorities were awaiting the guidelines on fire safety aspect.

The bench observed that restaurants having sitting capacity of over 50 needed fire clearance and there was a tendency to keep the official capacity below 50 to avoid this clearance.

"Do you want a repeat of what had happened in Mumbai? This is playing with the lives of citizens. If God forbid, something happens there, what will you do," the bench said.

"There is a different law for rich and different law for poor," the bench said.

When Nadkarni said, "law is the same", the bench observed, "but its interpretation are different".

On December 29 last year, a massive fire had swept through two roof-top pubs - Mojos Bistro and 1Above - in Kamala Mills compound in central Mumbai, killing 14 people.

The top court is seized of the issues related to validity of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations, which protect unauthorised constructions from being sealed in the national capital.

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