July 28, 2021 7:40:47 am
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday directed the UT Administration to forthwith carry out an exercise under the supervision of the UT Chief Architect to identify the residential buildings in Chandigarh, and find out whether they have been sold as independent units.
A division bench of Justices Tejinder Singh Dhindsa and Vivek Puri passed the order while hearing the plea of Residents Welfare Association and another which have challenged the sale of houses in Chandigarh as independent units like floor-wise or on a share basis.
To find out whether any floor-wise sale of dwelling units is contemplated, the bench scanned the advertisements that have been carried out in the dailies of the recent past having circulation in the city, and discovered that in a daily newspaper as many as 24 advertisement(s) have been carried scouting for purchasers/investors for separate floors/independent floors.
The bench held that the advertisements lend credence to the assertion raised on behalf of the petitioners that under the garb of sale of certain percentage share of a residential unit independent floors are being sold.
“The written statement filed on behalf of the official respondents/Chandigarh Administration as also the subsequent affidavit of the Assistant Estate Officer is totally silent on such aspect. In our view, the Chandigarh Administration ought to have been alive to such situation and particularly when there were specific averments made in the present petition which was filed way back in the year 2016. Being in a state of denial on paper would not suffice. In the fitness of things, the Administration should have carried out some kind of physical verification to ascertain as to whether such modus operandi had been resorted to after repeal of the Apartment Rules, 2001,” the bench remarked.
Thus, observing that the UT Administration has chosen to skirt a vital issue that has been raised in the instant petition, the division bench directed the UT Administration “to forthwith carry out an exercise whereby in the first instance the properties/buildings would be identified from the office of the Estate Officer where the record of the rights is maintained wherein sale of share(s), be it to the extent of 50 %, 30 % or 20 % has been sold/transferred to a person outside the family of the original owner/shareholder. The second step would be to carry out a physical inspection of such identified buildings/dwelling units to find out as to whether the sale of share(s) has actually translated into the buyer occupying an independent floor in the otherwise composite dwelling unit or to find out as to whether independent floors are in the process of being constructed commensurate to the share(s) that has been purchased in such dwelling unit”.
“It would be open for the official respondents to seek the co-operation/assistance of the concerned police authorities/law enforcement agencies to facilitate the carrying out of the physical inspection of the premises in question. We further direct that this entire exercise be carried out under the supervision of the Chief Architect, UT Chandigarh,” the bench observed.
It was further ordered that to ensure that such exercise does not become overly time-consuming. “The same be confined from the date of filing of the instant petition till December 31, 2019. Still further the exercise to confine only with regard to residential buildings,” the order stated.
Meanwhile, on submission of UT senior standing counsel Pankaj Jain that for such an exercise to be completed and for a report to be submitted, it would take a period of two weeks, the HC ordered that the matter be listed for further consideration on August 11, 2021.
It was also said in the order that “the exercise that has been so directed by us is only towards a fact finding exercise which we feel would be imperative for us to take a final view in the matter considering the prayers made in the petition. The present order in no way expresses our opinion on merits”.
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