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Supreme Court vacates order of status quo

J. Venkatesan

Regularisation of unauthorised buildings in Chennai

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday vacated its order of status quo on regularisation of unauthorised constructions by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority.

The Supreme Court, by an interim order on December 14, 2007, had said: “Status quo as on today shall be maintained until further orders and the petitioners [CMDA and Tamil Nadu government] shall not pass any order of regularisation, in the meantime.”

Demolition of unauthorised constructions were taken up after the Madras High Court struck down as unconstitutional a law granting moratorium for one year on demolition of all types of unauthorised constructions numbering over 37,000, including 147 high rise commercial complexes in the city.

On special leave petitions against this judgment, the Supreme Court passed the status quo order.

During Tuesday's hearing, Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, appearing for the appellants submitted that the present law on moratorium on demolitions was valid till July 2011. He said the government was considering amendments to Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 taking note of the recommendations of Justice Mohan committee.

Justice Raveendran told the ASG, “You make the law, otherwise it will be a mockery.” The Bench thereafter vacated the status quo order passed in December 2007.

The SLPs stated that there has been a rapid increase in the population of all metro cities, including Chennai, owing to industrialisation, migration and various other factors putting pressure on land and infrastructure. Initially an ordinance was promulgated (it later became an Act) on July 27, 2007 in respect of specified categories of unauthorised development suspending punitive action for one year. Later, this law was extended year after year and in 2010 it was extended till July 2011.

Seeking to quash the judgment, the SLPs said: “Unauthorised constructions have become a reality because the planning process itself had broken down. The law recognises the need to take urgent measures to revitalise the planning process. These myriad and complex issues cannot be dealt with by freezing development and ordering demolition on a large scale.”

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