The Himachal Pradesh High Court has rejected the main defence taken by the Municipal Corporation, Shimla that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has restrained the Corporation from permitting any construction, even on old line beyond two storeys and attic floor.
Petitioners Sanjay Malhotra and others have approached the High Court, seeking quashing of the order dated July 18, 2020 passed by the Municipal Corporation, Shimla and directions to the Corporation to permit the petitioners to complete the repair works in accordance with permission granted on June 20, 2019, as well as plan sanctioned by the State Heritage Advisory Committee in its meeting held on February 10, 2020, apart from the structural stability certificate/report placed on record by the petitioners.
The division bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia, while going through the entire order passed by NGT on Friday, found that there was no embargo or impediment for carrying out the repair or reconstruction work as regards the non-residential/commercial structures and the order is only confined to residential structures existing in the core area/green area/forest area, and does not delve upon or deal with the structures, other than the residential structures.
In such circumstances, the bench failed to appreciate as to how the plan/map submitted by the petitioners for reconstruction/carrying out major repair work of the building for commercial purpose could have been rejected.
On April 20, the main defence taken by the Municipal Corporation to oppose the claim of the petitioner was that NGT has restrained the Corporation from permitting any construction even on old line beyond two storeys and attic floor.
Reliance in support of this submission was placed upon direction No 112 (IV) issued by the NGT in Original Application No 121 of 2014, titled as Yogindra Mohan Sengupta vs Union of India & Ors, which read as under:-
“IV. Wherever the old residential structures exists in the Core area or the Green/Forest area which are found to be unfit for human habitation and are in a seriously dilapidated condition, the Implementation Committee constituted under this judgment may permit construction/reconstruction of the building but strictly within the legally permissible structure limits of the old building and for the same/permissible legal use. The Competent Authority shall sanction the plans and/or approve the same only to that extent and no more; under any circumstances such plans must not be beyond two storeys and an attic floor and only for residential purpose.”
“We dispose of this petition, while directing the respondents to consider and if permissible, approve the map of the petitioners for reconstruction/carrying out major repair work of the building in question within a period of six weeks from today.
“However, it is made clear that this exercise shall be carried out strictly in accordance with the provisions of law, subject to the condition that the petitioners shall submit the revised plan within a period of two weeks from today,” the order read. ILNS/SHV/RJ