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The right to a livelihood includes the right to live in safe buildings: High Court

According to the Bombay High Court, the right to livelihood inherent in Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to live in secure structures and residences, and the owner of the structure, whether private or public, has a fundamental duty to assure this safety.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni rendered their decision on a public interest case filed suo motu (on its own) in the aftermath of a slew of building collapses in Mumbai and other areas of Maharashtra.

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In the petition, the court also mentioned the expansion of unlawful constructions across the state.

The court stated that such situations, in which individuals lose their lives as a result of building collapses, must be absolutely eliminated.

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The owner of the building, whether private or public, had a fundamental responsibility to safeguard the structure’s safety so that the lives of the tenants were not jeopardised, according to the High Court.

In its ruling, the bench stated that a process must be established in which the appropriate civic or state personnel would enforce, within their authority, an audit of structures as required by law, and buildings that are notified as outdated might be removed.

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Concerning unauthorised structures, the court stated that “strong hands of law” are necessary to punish the unruly.

To safeguard human life, strong arms of the law are essential. The safety of the building’s premises is critical in order to avoid putting people’s lives at risk. The chaotic state of things with slums mushrooming on every available open ground may be prevented, according to the court.

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It cannot be overstated that in a metropolis the size of Mumbai, migrant labour is crucial and always needed. Authorities in modern settings give little regard to mass housing, according to the court, that said that the problem will deteriorate in the future if timely action was not done.

It went on to say that the reason for such unlawful structures springing up and individuals living in them was due to collusion between municipal and state officials.

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