New Delhi, Oct 11 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today ordered an inspection of the popular south Delhi mall, Select City Walk, by the DDA to ascertain if the kiosks inside it posed a risk to public health or safety.
The direction came from a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar which had earlier observed that if there were any illegal commercial activities blocking the entry or exit points in the malls, it could lead to a situation like the 1997 Uphaar tragedy which had claimed 59 lives.
The order came on a PIL alleging that commercial activities inside the open areas of two popular south Delhi malls — Select City Walk and DLF — could pose a risk to public safety if there was a fire or an earthquake.
The petition has alleged that the two malls have “not adhered to the fire safety rules and national building codes” which mandate that there would be no encroachment of common areas, exits, terraces and other open areas.
The allegations have been refuted by both the malls in their respective replies to the PIL.
The stand of the malls has been supported by the Delhi Fire Services which said that it had inspected both the premises on August 28 on the high court’s direction and had found that the fire prevention and safety measures were being maintained by them.
The police, in its reply, has said that while it was not empowered to remove or demolish any unauthorised encroachment inside the malls, it will provide adequate assistance to the civic agencies which would undertake such an exercise.
The Select Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, owner of Select City Walk, in its reply had said that the kiosks in the open areas were neither unauthorised nor a misuse, and no risk was caused to the public health or safety by them.
DLF, which also runs a mall there, told the court that there has been no violation of rules on its part and urged the bench to dismiss the PIL.
The court had earlier expressed concern over the lack of respect for public safety and security and pulled up the authorities, including the Delhi Police and the Fire Services, for not thinking of “public safety and security”.
The petitioner, advocate Jeetender Gupta, has in his PIL sought directions to the authorities to remove or demolish the encroachments, obstructions or alterations in the open or common areas, entries and exits.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.