Construction Plea Pending For Year, Hc Orders Probe, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

Shimla: The high court of Himachal Pradesh has directed Dharamshala’s municipal commissioner to find out who failed to decide on sanctioning the construction of a private building (a guest house) within the prescribed time. Whether serving or retired, some officer must be held accountable, it said.

The application for construction was kept pending for more than a year against the prescribed limit of two months. Holding the officers concerned “grossly negligent” in not sticking to the procedure, the court said: “This inaction on their part is fraught with the danger of being activated by extraneous considerations.”

A Dharamshala resident had sought directions from the court to the secretaries for urban development and town planning, besides the town’s municipal commissioner, to act under Section 31(5) of the of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1977, and issue him a letter of approval for the 4-floor site plan filed on August 7, 2018. The site was at Up Mohal McLeodganj in Dharamshala tehsil of Kangra district.

The division bench of justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and justice Virender Singh said in its verdict that the MC claimed to have rejected the commercial guest house plan because the plot area was below minimum required 250 square meters, though only 3 sqm short. However, the commissioner had not communicated to the resident within two months whether his request was accepted or denied. Rather the MC had taken for more than a year and, so, the permission is deemed to have been granted.

The court said: “However, that doesn’t give the petitioner liberty to raise construction in any manner he likes. It is neither safe nor prudent to encourage cases of so-called deemed sanction, if it is contrary to the law only because of the inaction and lethargy of the officials, which in addition to the routine work could be for extraneous consideration.” Stating that it cannot, otherwise, permit haphazard construction in Himachal Pradesh, more particularly in earthquake-prone Dharamshala, the court observed that: “But the MC officers who were in a state of slumber deserve to be punished.” The reply time under the Act was reduced from six to two months to bring accountability and responsibility into the system.

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