BANGALORE: With the exception of the High Court, no court in Bangalore is safe if a fire breaks out. Several thousands, including judges, lawyers and litigants, throng the city’s court buildings every day, unaware of the hazards.
None of the three buildings housing the City Civil and Sessions Court, the Metropolitan Magistrate Court and the Mayo Hall Traffic Court has taken a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Fire and Emergency Services Department, according to the response to a Right to Information petition. Filed by techie and social activist Sharan Desai, the petition has brought to light a complete disregard for fire safety regulations.
The City Civil and Sessions Court is 33.3 metres high and the Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Nrupathunga Road 26.70 metres high, but neither has a sprinkler system. According to the rules, the buildings must have automatic fire detection systems and sprinklers. They should also have manual electrical fire alarms with call points near each staircase, and a control panel on the ground floor.
They don’t even have a public address system on each floor, as stipulated, say fire safety authorities.
Directions in which people must move in the event of an emergency should be indicated along the corridors of each floor to help during evacuation. The buildings have no such directions, and the escape routes are not marked.
Biggest Building: The City Civil and Sessions Court building near Cauvery Bhavan houses 126 court halls in seven storeys. About 2,000 court and 1,000 government employees work here. On any given day, close to 10,000 advocates and 20,000 litigants visit the building. Yet, no safety precaution is in place. When the Fire and Emergency Services Department inspected the basement, it found dumped files, furniture and old vehicles.
On the ground floor, the electrical wiring was not proper, and had loose fittings. The buildings do not have approved evacuation plans, and 40 per cent of their staff are not trained in fire safety, as recommended.
B A Patil, Registrar-General of the High Court, said he didn’t know much about the safety measures at the lower courts and directed this reporter to the City Civil Court. Chandrashekar Margoor, Registrar of the City Civil Court, he said, “We have written to the PWD and we will take up the work soon.”