Bombay High Court reprimands civic authorities for poor state of roads in Mumbai [10.8.2023]

The High Court of Bombay on Wednesday came down heavily on the civic authorities of Mumbai and surrounding suburban regions for not taking up seriously the maintenance and repair work of roads, which could become a reason for accidents in the Maharashtra capital.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor summoned the Municipal Commissioners of six corporations, along with the Commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), directing them to remain present in the court on August 11 at 11:30 am and explain why they should not be made liable for disobedience and non-compliance of the 2018 order.

In its 2018 order, the High Court had directed all the municipal corporations and the state government to maintain streets and roads, including footpaths, in a proper condition. The civic authorities were further to remove potholes from the city.

Noting that this was a clear contempt of the 2018 verdict, the High Court summoned Municipal Commissioners of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation, Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation, Thane Municipal Corporation and Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation.

The High Court then referred to another order of December 7, 2022 which ruled that if any death was caused due to potholes on roads or open manholes/drainage, the concerned officers would be held responsible. 

Noting that the directions issued in the 2018 judgement were, in fact, duties cast by the legislation, the Bench said that even after five years, the authorities have not been able to remove potholes. 

It observed that a survey would usually take only 15 days to complete, unless the officers were made personally liable. 

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is the chairman of MMRDA. 

The petition filed by Ruju Thakker claimed that the civic authorities of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region were in contempt of the High Court verdict passed on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in 2013 over the issue of potholes.

Thakker showed the High Court recent photographs and news reports about rising accidents taking place on the roads, sometimes even causing death.

11 Aug 2023