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Shut Down Coaching Centres Violating Safety Norms, Delhi Civic Body Told

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The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the MCD and the DDA to shut down forthwith the coaching centres operating in violation of the fire safety norms.

A bench headed by Justice Yashwant Varma, which had earlier ordered inspection of coaching centres in Mukherjee Nagar by a team of lawyers, also asked the authorities to re-locate electrical equipment installed outside their premises which may be potentially dangerous to the public.

The order came on a batch of petitions on the operation of coaching centres in the area, including a case the high court had registered on its own after taking cognisance of an incident of fire that broke out at one of them in June 2023.

Amicus curiae Gautam Narayan told the court that the inspection, which was carried out on two occasions in April, revealed that a few coaching centres that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) claimed had shut down were still functioning under a new management or name.

Mr Narayan said these premises were in non-compliance with the fire safety requirements, and in one instance, an electrical board was found installed at the very entrance, blocking the way in case of a fire.

The court pulled up the MCD for failing to take note of such coaching centres in spite of its earlier direction to close down institutes which are in violation of fire safety norms, and directed it to immediately take action against them.

“Someone is wanting to play games? You are trying to nitpick. The direction was to shut it down. Don’t say anything now. You shut it down. The amicus is doing the job which the MCD should be doing. You created this mess. You will shut down all four properties which have been identified,” the bench, also comprising Justice Ravinder Dudeja, said.

“In light of apparent violation of sealing directions issued by us, we direct the MCD/DDA (Delhi Development Authority) to take action forthwith and premises are sealed,” the bench ordered.

The high court had earlier said “fire safety is a must” and all coaching centres must either comply with their statutory requirements under the Delhi Master Plan, 2021 and other applicable regulations or face closure.

On Friday, the court also clarified that the “character” of a building for the purposes of its identification as an educational building and the applicability of the fire safety norms has to be determined by its “use”, and asked the MCD, DDA and The Delhi Fire Service (DFS) to undertake a fresh survey to identify non-compliant coaching centres within four weeks.

On a prima facie evaluation, the court finds that it is the expression “used for” in Unified Building Bye Laws which would be determinative of character as an educational building and therefore in case of buildings which may be falling in other general category but are used for school, coaching etc with over 20 students, it is the norms of educational buildings that will get attracted, it said.

Last year, the high court had registered a case on its own after taking suo motu cognisance of a fire incident at a coaching centre in Mukherjee Nagar in June during which students were seen climbing down the building using ropes.

​The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the MCD and the DDA to shut down forthwith the coaching centres operating in violation of the fire safety norms. 

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