New Delhi, Dec 19 : The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Central and Delhi governments and police on a petition seeking closure of eateries which are running without fire clearances in the posh Khan Market and Connaught Place area.
Restaurants are situated either on terraces or on the first floor of these markets with extremely narrow staircases and with no alternate fire exit/escapes, said the plea.
The court, while issuing notice to the governments and Delhi Police, sought their responses along with the Fire Department, New Delhi Municipal Council, Delhi Development Authority and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
The petition filed by Delhi resident Manjit Singh has also sought a direction to the authorities to seal or order closure of all restaurant which are running in Khan Market and Connaught Place in contravention of municipal laws, and without licenses and those which generally pose a fire risk to the citizens so that no loss may be caused to human life.
In February this year, the NDMC had closed 21 terraces in restaurants in Connaught Place after the wall and roof of a building in C-Block and another vacant building in L-Block collapsed, said the plea, adding that "thereafter the open air terraces and restaurants have been reopened in a clandestine manner".
The entrances to all restaurants in Khan Market are "extremely narrow and have no alternate fire exit and may prove to be a disaster in case of a fire tragedy".
Most of the restaurants do not have a fire safety certificate claiming exemption as being less than 50 seater, said senior advocate Vivek Sood, appearing for Singh.
The plea sought doing away with the requirement of having a seating capacity of 50 or more for requiring a fire clearance.
"The petition also challenges the constitutional vires of the definition of 'Assembly Buildings' under Clause 3.1.5 of the National Building Code, by way of which exemption is given to restaurants having seating capacity of less than 50 persons, from seeking Fire Safety Certificates," it said.
The petition also said that the lanes around these eateries are too narrow for being navigated by fire tenders or other emergency vehicles.