HC notice to Tata Housing, Centre, Punjab, ASI
Chandigarh, November 17
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Ranjan Gogoi also issued notice of motion to the UT through its Adviser and Punjab Director of Local Self Government. In all, notices were issued to eight respondents on a petition filed in public interest against the “Tata Housing Camelot Colony” coming up in Kansal village, adjoining the Capitol Complex.
As the petition filed by advocate Aalok Jagga came up, counsel DS Patwalia sought directions to the respondents to maintain status quo, as the project was in progress. The Chief Justice verbally observed that if someone was going ahead after the issuance of notice of motion, he was doing it at his own risk. The assertion was made orally and cannot be construed as an expression of opinion.
The Bench also fixed January 20 as the date of hearing. Let replies, if any, be filed by then, the Bench added.
Patwalia asked the Bench to advance the date of hearing to December 17, as a related petition on the preparation of Chandigarh’s master plan was to come up on the that date.
Opposing the plea, counsel for the state of Punjab Rupinder Khosla claimed the two matters were not interrelated. Taking note of the claims and counter claims, the Bench asked Patwalia to be present during the hearing of the master plan case too.
The notice issued to the Union of India and the Archeological Survey was accepted by standing counsel Onkar Singh Batalvi, while Khosla accepted the notice served on the state of Punjab and Local Self Government. UT senior standing counsel Sanjay Kaushal accepted the notice on Chandigarh Administration’s behalf.
In the petition, Jagga asserted a perusal of the brochure would “shock the conscience of the city residents. Right behind the Capitol Complex, zero kilometres from the periphery of Chandigarh, horrendous buildings as high as 35 storeys are to come up in the entire area of 52 acres, thereby completely obstructing the view of the Shivalik hills”.
Jagga added: “He has learnt that initially the area was given to the MLAs of Punjab Legislature for the construction of the Punjab MLA society…. Under dubious circumstances, the land of the society has been transferred/sold to the private respondents on an understanding between them that each member of the Legislative Assembly who was a member of the Punjab MLA society would be given an amount of Rs 85/ 95 lakh in cash and one flat each to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 2.5 crore. Under what circumstances and as to how this transaction/exchange has taken place leaves much to be desired”.
The petition will now come up with related “suo motu” case. Taking suo motu cognisance, Justice Ajay Tewari had earlier asserted the structure’s construction in the Capitol Complex’s vicinity revealed a “disturbing state of rapid and unregulated urbanisation”. It was all the more disturbing as the High Court was monitoring Chandigarh’s master plan preparation.
Later in the evening, Tata Housing expressed surprised about the filing of the PIL against the proposed project at Kansal.
Asserting they had full faith in the judiciary, managing director Brotin Banerjee said: “Tata Housing will always follow the due process for any development as per the laws of the land. We had entered into agreements for this project about 45 months ago and have not started any activity at site till date”.
He added: “We have always complied with the laws of the land and also respect the environment.... Our proposed project in Kansal, while complying with all rules and regulations, will reflect our underlying philosophies in terms of design excellence and environmental sustainability.