Conversion fee: People told to give bank guarantee of revised charges

In a temporary relief for the city residents who have to pay conversion fee on account of conversion of industrial plots into commercial,the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday made it clear that only a bank guarantee of the revised charges envisaged by the administration would be deposited by those who had applied for conversion.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: May 8, 2012 3:49:13 am

In a temporary relief for the city residents who have to pay conversion fee on account of conversion of industrial plots into commercial,the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday made it clear that only a bank guarantee of the revised charges envisaged by the administration would be deposited by those who had applied for conversion.

As against Rs 20,000 stipulated in the policy,the administration last year had revised the conversion charges to Rs 29,713 per square yard. A division bench made it clear that till the time the High Court decided the petitions,challenging the revised charges,the balance amount (Rs 9,713) would be deposited by the applicants in the shape of bank guarantee.

If the High Court upholds the revised charges then the bank guarantees will be got executed by the administration. Else the money will be refunded to the applicants. The bunch of petitions,challenging the revised charges,were admitted on Monday. The same will come up for regular hearing in the first week of July.

It was on December 1,2011 that a division bench of the High Court had stayed an order of the single bench that had struck down the revised charges envisaged by the administration for conversion of industrial plots into that of commercial.

A division bench comprising Justices M M Kumar and R N Raina on December 1,2011 had stayed the order dated April 7 by a single bench,and issued notices to 43 persons (industrialists) who had initially moved the High Court against the revised conversion charges calculated by the Chandigarh Administration.

Arguing on behalf of the administration,its senior standing counsel,Sanjay Kaushal,had contended that there was no vested right in the petitioners and this (revised conversion fees) was only a concession given by the administration.

Kaushal had argued that the conversion rate as initially decided in 2005 was “dynamic and not static”. The development assumes significance since as many as 43 industrialists had challenged the revised conversion charges of Rs 29,000 per square yard as compared to the previous charge of Rs 20,000 per square yard decided by the administration last year.

The stay granted by the division bench was modified by another division bench of the High Court on Monday.

The conversion pertained to a commercial property in the industrial areas. The Chandigarh Administration had notified a scheme called “Chandigarh Conversion of Land Use of Industrial Sites into Commercial Activity/services in the Industrial Area,Phase-I and Phase-II,Chandigarh Scheme 2005”.

The scheme which was notified on July 11,2005 made a provision for conversion of land use for industrial area into commercial site on a conversion fee to be paid at the rate of Rs 20,000 per square yard. The scheme was to remain in operation for a period of two years and was,thus,to end on September 18,2007.

The response to the scheme was “lukewarm initially”. The administration,however,received applications for conversion in 2008. The administration extended the scheme for six months and subsequently came up with revised conversion fees,which was extended to Rs 29,000 per square yard.

The revised charges were challenged by several persons who had applied for auction of commercial properties held on December 17,2007. A notification informing the revised conversion charges was issued on March 18,2008.

UT told to revisit policy on
pre-fabricated liquor vends

The Punjab and Haryana High court has minced no words in observing that no transparent procedure seems to have been adopted by the Chandigarh Administration in allotment of land to pre-fabricated liquor vends. Observing that it appears to be violation of Article 14 of the Constitution,a division bench of the High Court on Monday gave one week’s time to the Chandigarh Administration to reconsider its policy for allotment of land/licences for pre- fabricated liquor vends.

The division bench observed that “we are of the view that allotment of liquor vend by giving lease in the manner allotted by administration is violative of Article 14 of Constitution and no transparent procedure with regard to equality clause is adopted”. The bench also asked the UT counsel to clarify as to whether the land on which pre-fabricated liquor vends have been allowed to come up was reserved for expansion and maintenance of the road.

The bench noted that if the area was to be given on lease,it could not be restricted to liquor vends and that such a practice did not achieve the purpose of fairness. Earlier,senior lawyer Chetan Mittal,counsel for the petitioner,contended that the “administration cannot put up any structures on public pathway”. Mittal added that the land was reserved for expansion and maintenance of road and that pre-fabricated liquor vends were not permissible and that even the mettaled or non-metalled part could not be used by the UT.

Mittal said metalled road could not be put to use except for maintenance of pathway. The development happened during the resumed hearing of a joint petition filed by local residents.

The residents had moved the High Court against the grant of liquor licence in “pre-fabricated temporary structure” in various parts of the city. The High Court had issued notices to the Chandigarh Administration and Municipal Corporation on the petition filed by Amit Jain of Industrial Area Phase I and other city residents.

The petitioners have sought directions to the administration and MC authorities to discontinue the grant of liquor licence in “pre-fabricated temporary structure” alleging that it was not only illegal,but also hazardous to public at large as it endangered free flow of traffic movement because of the location of these structures. It was also injurious to health and overall atmosphere on account of lack of amenities,the petitioners added.

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