HYDERABAD: The High Court has held that a civic body, being the owner of public streets, cannot block access of the public to the streets. The right of the owner of a private property to have access to a public road is in-built in his right to enjoy the said property, the court has observed.
Justice PV Sanjay Kumar was allowing a petition filed by Nannapaneni Vamsi Krishna, a resident of Ponnuru town in Guntur district, challenging the refusal of the municipal authorities to remove a bus shelter which was blocking access to his vacant land of 183 square yards in which he intended to construct a house.
The civic authorities contended that the petitioner, knowing fully well that a bus shelter existed in front of the subject house-site, acquired the same in 2013. There was a gap of 13 feet between the house-site and the bus-shelter and he was allegedly seeking removal of the bus-shelter not just for the purpose of ingress and egress but also to increase the commercial value of his property. The bus shelter was constructed jointly by the Lions Club of Ponnuru and the grandsons of one Pulikonda Musalaiah in his memory, the authorities added.
After perusing the case records and photographs placed by the petitioner, the judge noted that the photographs clearly demonstrated that the bus-shelter completely blocked the frontage of the house-site and the diagonal access said to have been provided by the municipality appeared to be wholly unrealistic and was no means of access at all.
The photographs also revealed that the bus-shelter was being utilised as a makeshift bar for consumption of liquor, the judge pointed out.
Justice Sanjay Kumar held that blocking access to the petitioner’s site amounted to total deprivation of his constitutional right to enjoy his property.
“The public has a right of way and if a public thoroughfare is blocked or closed, it would be open to them to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court under Articles 226 and 300A of the Constitution,” the judge said.
While directing the civic authorities to remove the bus shelter within two months from the date of receipt of this order, the judge said that as the endeavour of the grandsons of Musalaiah was only to safeguard the memory of their ancestor, it would be open to them to name the newly constructed bus-shelter, the cost of which would be borne by the petitioner, after their ancestor.