CHENNAI: The Chennai Corporation was lambasted by Madras High Court for keeping mum for nearly 15 years and suddenly waking up from its deep slumber when a contempt application was filed for not taking appropriate action.
While passing orders way back in February 1999 on a writ petition praying for a direction to regularise a building, the court had directed the ‘Appellate Authority’ to take a decision on the application for regularisation. After waiting 14 long years, the petitioner had filed the present contempt petition in 2013.
When the matter came up before the First Bench of Chief Justice SK Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan on September 10, counsel for the Corporation submitted that there was no such ‘Appellate Authority’ to carry out the Court’s order.
Irked by this, the bench retorted that if there was no such authority, it was the bounden duty of the Corporation to have obtained a clarification in 1999 itself when the order was passed. “This is no excuse for circumventing the order merely because the description of the authority may not have been correctly recorded in the order,” the bench added.
“Even on a query, the Corporation counsel is unable to state as to whether any regularisation application was filed by the petitioner and the fate thereof. The phraseology used is that there is no application ‘pending’. It appears that deliberately a nebulous stand has been taken so that the correct picture does not appear before the court as to what is the decision on the regularisation application, if at all taken,” the bench pointed out.
It also observed that it was not able to know whether vague notices were being sent deliberately to finish off the formality, rather than officers inspecting and thereafter, issuing notices for any unauthorised construction, when it was told by the petitioner that she had received a vague notice containing only the information furnished in the contempt application, recently.
The bench directed the Corporation to communicate the decision taken on the regularisation application within a week or to ask for a fresh one and give a reply within two weeks thereafter. “The Corporation Commissioner and junior executive engineer shall be responsible to ensure compliance.”