The Bombay High Court has ruled that new buildings must have water connections and lifts in place before they can receive a Partial Occupancy Certificate.

Noting that water and electricity supply are fundamental necessities for habitation, the Bombay High Court revoked the Partial Occupancy Certificate (OC) issued for a new construction in Mumbai due to the builder’s failure to ensure these essential services.

The court emphasized the necessity for policies safeguarding residents who are compelled to occupy newly constructed homes lacking essential amenities like lifts and water connections. It instructed the civic body to refrain from issuing even a Partial Occupancy Certificate in such circumstances.

The BMC issues an occupation certificate once the construction meets all the necessary criteria for resident facilities. Only after receiving the OC are flat purchasers permitted to move into the premises.

The concept of ‘Occupancy’ hinges on habitability, which inherently necessitates the provision of basic amenities. Among these, water and power are fundamental. It is concerning that the MCGM appears to assume that a building lacking regular water supply can be deemed habitable and qualify for an ‘occupancy’ certificate. We categorically reject this notion, as accepting it would unjustly impact residents citywide.

However, the resident argued that the flooring was incomplete, there were exposed wires, the lifts were not operational, and the staircases lacked handrails. Additionally, there was no consistent water supply, and residents were compelled to rely on tanker water often designated for construction purposes.

The builder asserted that he was providing each resident with a minimum of 20 litres of Bisleri drinking water. Additionally, he argued that BMC regulations prohibiting construction during the monsoon prevented the laying of pipelines for the main water connection.

However, the bench found the builder’s explanation unsatisfactory. “The state of affairs described in this Writ Petition may well be indicative of broader issues in all development and redevelopment in this city,” the court remarked.

The bench appointed a court receiver to take physical possession of the petitioner’s flat and issued the following directives:

  1. The builder must provide a separate hygienically treated water tank for storing drinking water, filled with water supplied by the MCGM. The provision of twenty-litre Bisleri water is to continue.
  2. An affidavit explaining how the Part Occupancy Certificate was issued in the absence of necessary amenities is required.
  3. The petitioner is to remain in transit accommodation at the builder’s expense until all amenities are provided.

The bench scheduled the next hearing for August 24, 2022.

Case Title: Subodh M Joshi vs. Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai & Others

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