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Chandigarh chief administrator sets aside estate office order, waives Rs 3-crore penalty

The UT Estate Office had imposed the penalty under Chandigarh Estate Rules at the rate of Rs 500 square ft a month for period between October 5, 2010 and March 3, 2016.

Written by Vinod Kumar | Chandigarh |
August 21, 2016 6:15:38 am

IN HIS role as UT chief administrator, finance secretary Sarvjit Singh has quashed an order of the UT estate office and waived off penalty amounting to Rs 3.13 crore imposed on a Sector 22 resident for the sanction of a revised building plan for a house that he was constructing. The chief administrator hears appeals on orders passed by the estate officer.

The UT Estate Office had imposed the penalty under Chandigarh Estate Rules at the rate of Rs 500 square ft a month for period between October 5, 2010 and March 3, 2016. Rules under the Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation) Act 1952, stipulate that when a building plan has been sanctioned and the owner makes alternations during the course of construction, in such cases, compounding fee at prescribed rate is charged.

However, no separate penalty can be imposed for the same cause as it amounts to double jeopardy. S K Jain and Vikas Jain, counsels for the appellant, termed imposition of penalty as illegal as the violations are sanctionable and the estate office has also calculated compounding fee for regularising the alterations made in the building.

During an inspection carried on the under construction house of Ranjan Sahai, resident of Sector 22, it was found that the owners and occupiers had raised unauthorised construction in the building against the sanctioned plan which include front and back balconies beyond the building line; planning of building changed and room and toilet constructed on the rear courtyard.

A showcause notice was issued by the estate office on October 5, 2012 asking the owners to remove the violations. As per the report of the inspect staff, all the violations are sanctionable. The owner submitted revised building plan on February 9, 2015 and requested the concerned authority to release revised building plan. In response, SDO (building) asked the owner vide letter dated March 14, 2016 to deposit penalty in tune of Rs 3.13 crore for release of revised building plan.

The appellant filed an appeal before chief administrator. S K Jain and Vikas Jain, counsels for the appellant, pleaded that the SDO (building) calculated the penalty charges illegally and arbitrarily and without giving any opportunity of hearing to the appellant. The counsel further stated that all the alleged violations are sanctionable as reported by the inspection staff of the estate office. The counsel also contended that the estate office also assessed the compounding fee in respect of the violations in tune of Rs 59,176.

After hearing the case and going through the record, UT chief administrator-and-finance secretary Sarvjit Singh passed an order which reads: “Consequently, the case is remanded back to the estate officer to get the site in question inspected and if the alleged violations are sanctionable in nature, then to charge compounding fee in respect of that violations and to pass appropriate order afresh strictly as per rules and after giving due opportunity of hearing to the appellant. The order dated March 14, 2016 passed by SDO (building) is set aside.”

“The order has come as relief to many residents, who have been asked to pay penalty as well as compounding fee. There are over 100 such cases,” said Vikas Jain.

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