The Bombay High Court on Tuesday restrained the Mumbai Police from arresting advocate Sindha Sreedharan, the lawyer who had refused to vacate 'Shankar lok', the dilapidated building which collapsed last week in the city, killing seven persons. Adv. Sreedharan lost her sister in the collapse.
"No coercive action should be taken against the petitioner, advocates and counsels appearing for respective parties, till the court hears the matter," a division bench headed by Justice Anoop Mohta ordered on Tuesday. All the parties have been given four weeks to file affidavits and relevant documents in the matter.
The court passed the restraining order after the advocates and the petitioner submitted that there was apprehension of arrest. "We don't know what steps the police will take. There are averments made by the petitioner against the legal department as well. There is an apprehension about arrests," Anil Sakhre, senior counsel, told the court.
Ms. Sreedharan had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court, challenging the eviction notices issued by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The corporation had said that the building needed to be vacated as it was in dilapidated condition. She had got a stay from the court on the eviction notice.
In the affidavit that MCGM had filed before the court last year, it had stated that all occupants of the premise from the first to the seventh floor were vacated between 2000 and 2003 itself. Ms. Sreedharan had refused to comply due to differences with the land owner. She had claimed that the building was not in dilapidated condition.
On Tuesday, she claimed that there was threat to her life, as local Shiv Sena corporator had called her several times, warning of dire consequences. She sought protection against arrest. She also claimed that she had occupied the premise since 1969.
The court then ordered all the parties to file their affidavits in four weeks. It also kept the doors open for settlement between the advocate and the builder and promoter.
The next hearing will be held on April 15.