The Punjab and Haryana High Court has vacated the interim stay on a matter wherein the state of Punjab was directed not to allow installation of mobile towers on residential buildings.
A division Bench of Justices Harinder Singh Sidhu and Lalit Batra ordered, “It would be open to the respondent — State of Punjab — to consider and decide the applications of all telecom infrastructure providers/telecom service providers if they are found eligible as per applicable rules/ regulations/instructions/ guidelines of the Union/state government with regard to rooftop towers. The respondent — State/ Competent Authority — would ensure that the towers are erected only on structurally safe and approved buildings.”
Ordering the listing of other connected matter on February 23, 2022, the HC observed, “The panel constituted vide order dated April 8, 2021 would continue to monitor the activities pertaining to erection of towers in the state of Punjab strictly in terms of the directions contained in the order dated April 8, 2021.”
The HC passed the order while hearing a petition filed by Simarjeet Singh seeking to set aside the show-cause notice, dated February 8, 2021, issued to him by the Estate Officer, GMADA, calling upon him to remove the mobile tower installed on the roof of his house at Phase-10, Mohali. As per the notice, this was in violation of the conditions of the allotment letter and building bye-laws. The notice also stated that in the event of the petitioner, Simarjeet Singh, failing to do so, action under Section 45(3) of the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development, Act, 1995, to cancel the allotment would be taken.
During the previous hearings of the case in 2021, the HC had directed that installation of mobile towers on residential buildings be not allowed till further orders, as an interim measure in view of the apprehension that installation of towers in a haphazard manner may endanger the life and safety of the inhabitants.
However, telecom infrastructure provider, Bharti Airtel, through Senior Advocate Sumeet Goel with Samir Rathaur had moved
an application for vacating the interim stay, urging that detailed guidelines, dated December 7, 2020, had been framed by the state government in the light of rules issued by the Ministry of Communications (Department of Telecommunications).
In April 2021, the HC took note of the replies filed in the matter by the Centre and the state of Punjab and the fact that the entire issue of construction of towers is governed and regulated under the Indian Telegraph (Right of Way) Rules 2016 (these rules are framed under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, to regulate underground infrastructure which is optical fibre and overground infrastructure, i.e. mobile towers) and that the state government had also issued guidelines, dated February 7, 2021, regulating the installation of mobile towers, and also in view of the importance of the telecommunication services and that the prayer for vacation of stay was not opposed either by the Government of India or the state of Punjab.