Rise of Apartments

Supreme Court sets deadline for High Court to decide

Supreme Court sets deadline for High Court to decide

Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8

The Supreme Court has virtually set a four-month deadline for the Punjab and Haryana High Court to give its ruling on the rise of apartments from the debris of bungalows in Le Corbusier's Chandigarh.

"We request the High Court to dispose of the writ petition (on the conversion of single residential units into three-storied apartments) expeditiously and not later than four months from today," the Bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice S Ravindra Bhat asserted.

The matter was brought to the apex court's notice after a special leave petition was filed by the Sarin Memorial Legal Aid Foundation and another petitioner against the Union Territory of Chandigarh and other respondents.

The Bench was told that a civil writ petition was filed before the High Court seeking directions to the administration and other respondents to stop the conversion of single residential units into three-storied apartments.

The Bench was further told that the High Court on March 4, 2020, adjourned the hearing on the writ petition by recording the UT standing counsel's statement that floor-wise building plans would not be approved by the authorities concerned.

Appearing before the Bench, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi for the Sarin Foundation submitted that the writ petition had been pending in the High Court since 2016. He also expressed concern at the pace of constructions being carried out in violation of law, which was changing the shape of "the city of beauty" internationally known for its architecture and urban design.

"As the special leave petition is filed against an order of adjournment by recording the statement of the standing counsel for the UT, Chandigarh, we are not inclined to interfere with the order passed by the High Court. However, we are of the opinion that the writ petition does not brook any further delay in view of its importance…," the Bench asserted while dismissing the special leave petition.

The Sarin foundation was set up in 1995 in memory of senior advocate Harbans Lal Sarin and his son Ranjit Lal Sarin. Former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, Justice SS Sodhi, is its president.

Senior advocate and the foundation's secretary-general Manmohan Lal Sarin had told the High Court during the course of hearing that one could convert Chandigarh into Delhi. But Delhi could never be converted into Chandigarh.

The petition was filed before the High Court for directions to restrain the UT and its respondent-functionaries from permitting residential plots to be converted into apartments.

The HC Bench had asked for the details of the policy on disposal of properties in Chandigarh. "A subsequent vendee of a co-sharer cannot take possession till partition; and that is the crux of the matter before the Court," the Bench said. "UT does not allow partition". The Bench had said increasing dwelling units too was not without problems, such as pressure on infrastructure, sewerage and car parking.

‘Plea brooks no further delay’

“As the special leave petition is filed against an order of adjournment by recording the statement of the standing counsel for the UT, Chandigarh, we are not inclined to interfere with the order passed by the High Court. However, we are of the opinion that the writ petition does not brook any further delay in view of its importance…,” the SC Bench asserted while dismissing the special leave petition.

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