Strange seems to be the functioning of staff of Chandigarh Estate Office as they imposed misuse charges to the tune of Rs 20 lakh on the owner of a commercial site without orders from the competent authority. Not only that, the charges were imposed six years after the Estate Office itself had given permission for sale of property to the previous owner. In the no-objection certificate (NOC), there was no mention of outstanding dues. Terming it gross injustice, SDM (East) Tapsaya Raghav, while exercising power of the estate officer, on September 28 set aside the order. Avtar Singh was issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) by the estate office in respect of shop-cum-flat (SCF) number 37 in Sector 21 on September 1, 2009, on the basis of which he sold the property on September 11 to Mohinder Paul Gupta, a resident of Sector 21. Gupta received a letter from the estate office, dated April 3, 2013, asking him to deposit Rs 20 lakh on account of misuse charges.
The appellant filed an appeal before the chief administrator, who vide order issued on October 1, 2015, remanded the case to the estate office. S K Jain and Vikas Jain, counsel for the appellant, contended that no misuse charges could be recovered from the appellant as no order was passed by the estate officer. The order was issued in the name of the previous owner. Further, the counsel contended that after purchasing the SCF, the appellant got it converted into shop-cum-office (SCO), the revised building plan of which was passed by the estate office on May 24, 2012.
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On perusal of records and documents submitted in the court, the estate officer observed that no orders regarding misuse charges were passed and the estate office staff on their own calculated the misuse charges in 2009 without any order of the competent authority. Nor any speaking orders were issued.
The estate officer stated that in view of the sequence of events, the present owner is not liable to make payment as the estate office itself had issued permission for sale to the previous owner without any condition. Further, the said site was converted from SCF into SCO and the revised building plan was also passed by the estate office.
The order reads: “The charges of misuse penalty in the present case, especially without any order, would be gross injustice and unjustified to the present owner. The orders are vacated with the directions to make entry in the relevant register of the peshi branch and also in the file management system of the office and this file be consigned to the record of peshi branch.”