Rejecting the state government’s proposed policy to regularise illegal constructions, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday said the policy was arbitrary and contrary to the norms that govern construction activity in the state.
“We are of the view that the proposed policy is arbitrary and does not stand the test of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution. If it is implemented by the planning authority, they will be acting contrary to Maharashtra Region and Town Planning Act and the Development Control Regulations,” said Justice A S Oka.
A division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice Prakash Naik was hearing a Public Interest Litigation pertaining to illegal constructions in Digha in Navi Mumbai. The government had submitted a policy to regularise illegal constructions and sought permission from the court to implement it. The policy was meant to regularise certain illegal structures built prior to December 31, 2015.
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“We are unable to grant the prayer in the government’s affidavit,” the court said.
The policy included clauses through which use of Floor Space Index (FSI) beyond admissible limits could be regularised by payment of a premium. Other clauses provided for regularisation of buildings had inadequate parking area and setback areas.
“The effect of regularising unauthorised construction in industrial and commercial areas and no-development zones is that the planning authority will have to take steps for modification of development plan under the MRTP Act,” said the HC.
The court also said planning authorities did not have power to regularise illegal structures if the same were not in line with the sanctioned development plan. “If the proposed policy is implemented, there will be complete breakdown of governance in terms of MRTP Act,” stated the HC.
With 2.5 lakh illegal buildings expected to be regularised besides slum clusters, Justice Oka observed, “If such a large number of constructions are regularised, it will put pressure on civic amenities, building supply, roads etc. Before taking steps for regularising, the government should have made a study of impact.”
The HC also mentioned that the government had brought about a legislation for regularisation of illegal structures in Ulhasnagar without amending the municipal laws for implementation of the policy. “The draft policy is contrary to municipal laws, MRTP Act and cannot be implemented without violating the act,” said the court.
The government pleader said the state would come out with a fresh policy for regularisation. Meanwhile, the court said the demolition of unauthorised constructions in Digha should not be undertaken till May 31 in light of the present order.