After granting sufficient opportunities to the owners of Sector 37-based Batra Theatre, Naresh Batra and his brother. Dr Mahesh Batra, to remove building violations in their jointly owned building in Sector 17-D, Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has now directed their tenants to remove the non-compoundable building violations within two weeks at the expense of Batra brothers.
Taking serious note of the Batra brothers’ attitude, a division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Sudip Ahluwalia on Monday ordered, “Since the tenants are being made to suffer and the Estate Office has been engaged in an avoidable exercise due to obstinate attitude of petitioners or their co-owners, namely, landlords of the building(Batras), they shall also show cause as to why this court should not direct all the tenants to deposit their rent w.e.f. 01.11.2016 with the Estate Office till further orders?” A copy of the order was made available on Tuesday.
Hearing a petition moved by Naresh Batra and his son Neeraj Batra way back in 2012 challenging the Chandigarh Administration’s resumption order of SCO Nos 101-102-103 in Sector 17-D, the court remarked, “The petitioners or other co-owners of the building shall not raise any objection and shall also not question the expenses to be incurred by respective tenants in removing the violations.” These SCOs have been rented out for showrooms of Reid and Taylor, Handloom House, Chief Boot House and Ombudsman of Insurance Company. Due to the strained relations between Naresh Batra and his brother Dr Mahesh Batra, they even failed to submit the revised building plan to the Estate Office.
The court also came down heavily on the Chandigarh Estate Office and said that despite the fact that the court had passed the orders of removal of violations/demolition way back on February 8 and again on May 25, the compliance exercise to seal the building was completed only by October 1. “In the resultant haste the small violations like installation of out-door unit of split AC have also been made excuse to seal the building where office of Ombudsman of Insurance Company is functional,” the court observed.
The court directed the Estate Officer/Assistant Estate Officer to show cause and explain the inordinate delay in compliance with the court orders and said that the court did not find any justification in the blanket sealing of different parts of the building when tenants have submitted that they have not resisted removal of non-sanctionable violations.
In its May 25 orders, the court had observed, “The Estate Officer is playing hide and seek with the court, obviously on being misled and misdirected by his officials who are watching the private interest more than that of the department. We direct the respondent-authorities to demolish all the unauthorised constructions and submit a compliance report before the next date of hearing, failing which stern action shall be taken against the erring official/officers.”
The court has directed the Estate Officer to visit the premises on October 25 and submit the status report whether all the non-sanctionable violations have been removed or not.