HIMACHAL HIGH COURT SETS ASIDE AMENDED ACT WHICH SOUGHT TO REGULARISE OVER 25,000 ILLEGAL STRUCTURES

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The Hush Post, Shimla: The Himachal High Court has acted against an amended act that sought to regularise illegal constructions across the state. The High Court on Friday set aside the legislation enabling legalisation of over 25,000 unauthorised structures — both commercial and residential.

“Insertion of Section 30-B by the Amending Act is contrary to the object and purpose of the principal act, and also ultra vires the Constitution of India, as such, we strike it down,” ruled a division bench of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan.

Disposing of many petitions of one nature which challenged the amendment by saying it was against the basic structure of the Constitution, the bench in a 86-page judgment said: “We hold the amendment to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, being manifestly arbitrary, irrational, illogical, capricious and unreasonable.”

A bill for legalising illegal constructions was passed in September last year. Justifying the Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill of 2016, then Town and Country Planning Minister Sudhir Sharma had said mass demolition of illegal buildings was not practical and thus they had brought a one-time relaxation policy to get illegal structures compounded. The court, which had expressed its displeasure then, now observed that “the science behind planning has given way to human greed and not the need.”

Expressing concern over mushrooming of buildings, the judges said: “The effect of such regularisation on safety, in terms of fire and traffic remains ignored. The fragile ecology of the state warrants demolition of all illegal constructions, which are beyond the planning and permissible limits.” Officials admitted that some of the buildings in Shimla are in danger of collapsing. Planned for a maximum population of 25,000, Shimla now has more than two lakh people.

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