26 May 2010

Unauthorised constructions to be demolished: Supreme Court

Coming harsh on those involved in illegal and unauthorized constructions, the Supreme Court in a recently reported decision [Priyanka Estate International Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Assam, AIR 2010 SC 1030] has declared that unauthorized construction which are beyond the local compoundable (read tolerable) limits are to be demolished. The Court was dealing with the illegal construction undertaken by various builders in Assam, which was the subject matter in appeal before the Supreme Court. 

Noting that the number of instances where unauthorized construction was taking placed unabated, the Supreme Court came down heavily, inter alia passing the following order;

73. It is a matter of common knowledge that illegal and unauthorised constructions beyond the sanctioned plans are on rise, may be due to paucity of land in big cities. Such activities are required to be dealt with by firm hands otherwise builders/colonisers would continue to build or construct beyond the sanctioned and approved plans and would still go scot-free. Ultimately, it is the flat owners who fall prey to such activities as the ultimate desire of a common man is to have a shelter of his own. Such unlawful constructions are definitely against the public interest and hazardous to the safety of occupiers and residents of multi-storeyed buildings. To some extent both parties can be said to be equally responsible for this. Still the greater loss would be of those flat owners whose flats are to be demolished as compared to the Builder.
74. Even though on earlier occasions also, under similar circumstances, there have been judgments of this Court which should have been a pointer to all the builders that raising unauthorised construction never pays and is against the interest of society at large, but, no heed to it has been given by the builders. Rules, regulations and bye-laws are made by Corporation or by Development Authorities, taking in view the larger public interest of the society and it is a bounden duty of the citizens to obey and follow such rules which are made for their benefit. If unauthorised constructions are allowed to stand or given a seal of approval by court then it is bound to affect the public at large. An individual has a right, including a fundamental right, within a reasonable limit, it inroads the public rights leading to public inconvenience, therefore, it is to be curtailed to that extent.
75. The jurisdiction and power of courts to indemnify a citizen for injuries suffered due to such unauthorised or illegal construction having been erected by builder/coloniser is required to be compensated by them. An ordinary citizen or a common man is hardly equipped to match the might and power of the builders.
76. In the case in hand, it is noted that number of occupiers were put in possession of the respective flats by the builder/developer constructed unauthorisedly in violation of the laws. Thus, looking to the matter from all angles it cannot be disputed that ultimately the flat owners are going to be the greater sufferers rather than builder who has already pocketed the price of the flat.
77. It is a sound policy to punish the wrong-doer and it is in that spirit that the courts have moulded the reliefs of granting compensation to the victims in exercise of the powers conferred on it. In doing so, the courts are required to take into account not only the interest of the petitioners and the respondents but also the interest of public as a whole with a view that public bodies or officials or builders do not act unlawfully and do perform their duties properly.

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