Mumbai: The Bombay high court in its order said, “If banks want to open their branches in buildings or any private property, they need not take any fire NOC from the local municipal corporation office.” The court added, “There is no law that exists which says that banks should take a fire NOC from the local body.”
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Sapan Shrivastav stating that as per section 23 of the Banking Regulations Act, 1949, and the guidelines issued by the RBI, banks must obtain a NOC from the concerned municipality. The petitioner had obtained the information under the Right to Information Act.
The court observed that the information was to the effect that while taking premises on rent, banks should ensure that the location of the branch complies with local norms or laws of the municipal corporation. The court also observed that the RTI query by the petitioner did not inform that banks had to obtain a NOC from municipal corporations.
Eventually, the court, while dismissing the petition, noted, “On the issue of fire safety, suffice it to state that there is no law which requires a bank to obtain a fire safety clearance. As per the municipal laws, the building which requires fire safety clearances needs to be subjected to an inspection and the duty is with the owner of the building to obtain a fire clearance.”