CHENNAI: Madras High Court today observed it is difficult to believe lawyers would lend their shoulders to such an illegality to prevent officers from sealing unauthorized constructions and issued notice to a building owner who did so to be present in court to explain his action.
The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul while dealing with a PIL with regard to illegal and unauthorized constructions in Sowcarpet area of George town, issued notice to the owners of a building to be present before it July 23 for preventing the officer from sealing the premises and holding out threats, allegedly by some lawyers. Police had cautioned the officer that the crowd gathered at the spot planned to lodge a complaint against him under the SC/ST act and so it was left for him to take a decision.
The bench observed it was not possible to verify if they were lawyers or others masquerading as such. There can be no question of application of the SC/ST act when the orders are being complied with by the officers under the directions of the court or by the committee, it said. The PIL was filed by 'Traffic' Ramaswamy, who contended that buildings in George town are completely unsafe and almost all of them are unauthorized constructions. In case of a fire or any other accident, even Fire Rescue Services cannot enter the streets, endangering lives of residents there,he had said.
The Bench directed all authorities concerned, including Corporation of Chennai and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, to take action on the illegal construction in a manner whereever the compoundable illegality is there to compound and in case the illegality is not compoundable, to demolish the same and file an Action Taken Report and status reports.
As per that CMDA and Corporation were filing continuously status reports.In one counter affidavit the Corporation accepted that not even one per cent of buildings in the area were built as per the norms. When the matter came up before the bench today, CMDA said a toll free number was allotted to lodge complaints, to which a suggestion was made by the court that the media may give due publicity to this number so that more people would be aware of it and be able to make use of it
When the bench sought to know about the action taken by the Enforcement wing, Ramaswamy brought to its notice that the officers are not given security where they go to act against illegal constructions and also mentioned an incident. At this stage the bench questioned if any officer was available in the Court to appraise what has happened.
The Executive Engineer (Enforcement) of the Corporation, B T Raman who has faced threats, explained how he was threatened while visiting the building to seal it. The bench then made the observation and directed the owner of the building to personally appear in court.