The Bombay high court had directed the BMC on November 15 to demolish the ‘India Re House’ aka ‘National House’, which was categorised as dilapidated by the civic body on September 18, 2019, based on a structural engineer’s report followed by a technical advisory committee report. The insurance company had initially accepted the report.
Venkataramani told a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha that the insurance company now has serious doubts about the process of categorisation of its building as dilapidated.
The AG told the court that demolition activities had begun and the NIC needed an urgent stay to protect its building. For the BMC, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi pointed out the petitioner had been silent for three years since the notice for demolition was issued.
The bench said since only boundary walls are in the process of being demolished, it would be in the interest of justice to stay the demolition process till December 9. It asked the BMC to file a response before the next hearing.
The NIC, through advocate Amit K Pathak, alleged that a Mumbai-based builder operating through P E Mannings was behind this demolition charade. Mannings is one of the respondents which had leasehold rights over the plot that was transferred in 1966 to one Ghai Lamba Pvt Ltd.
Ghai Lamba had transferred all its rights in the building as well as the sub-leasehold rights to India Reinsurance Corporation Ltd in March 1971. When the insurance sector was nationalised in 1972, India Reinsurance merged with National Insurance Company and the latter acquired all rights in the India Re House.