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Saturday, April 13, 2019

No action against illegal buildings disappoints HC


No action against illegal buildings disappoints HC

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 12

Expressing “disappointment” over the helplessness shown by the authorities concerned to act against 214 constructions found unfit for regularisation around the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted that the rules and regulations were obviously being amended time and again to help people raising illegal constructions.

Justice Nirmaljit Kaur also made it clear that a committee, constituted by the Punjab Department of Local Government, was expected to furnish names of officers who failed to cooperate or lend support in furtherance to notices issued to the violators “so that this court can pass appropriate orders of punishment”.

The direction came on a contempt petition filed by Sarabjit Singh Verka through counsel RS Bains. Acting on his initial petition, a Division Bench in March, 2014, had directed the constitution of the committee for proceeding with “its task” and submitting its report to the court.

Dissatisfied with the progress in the matter, Verka again moved the High Court contenting that the High Court had issued directions on June 3, 2011, to take action against illegal constructions near Golden Temple. Again on July 20, 2012, directions were issued not to sanction building plans in and around the Galiara area of the Golden Temple. But the district and state authorities continued to allow illegal construction in the area.

As the plea came up for hearing, Amritsar SDM Sandeep Rishi and Municipal Commissioner Harbir Singh were present in the court. Justice Nirmaljit Kaur asserted that it was unfortunate to know that progress had not been made. A communication dated August 10, 2018, was sent by the Amritsar MC Commissioner to the Director, Local Government Department, that not even a single construction out of 214 applications was found fit for regularisation according to the Walled City Amritsar (Recognition of Usage) Act Amendment Rules, 2018.

Accordingly, the respondents were required to proceed and carry out the necessary action against 214 applicants. Instead, the court was disappointed to know that the respondents were showing helpless in view of further amendment to the Act and Rules, for which another opportunity was to be granted to people having raised illegal constructions and violated the rules and the building bylaws. This was to be done to see whether these could now be regularised under the new rules.

Justice Nirmaljit Kaur added that the lackluster attitude of the respondents in not carrying out necessary action after the rejection of applications had led to continuation of the wrong, which was further facilitated by the fresh rules and regulations. As such, some action was definitely required to be taken against “such respondents and others, who facilitated or did nothing in pursuance to the Commissioner’s report”.

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