Construction of any new building in the Indian State of Tamilnadu is regulated by the Town & Country Planning Act of 1971. As per law, whenever a building comprising 3 floors and above (including ground floor) is proposed to be constructed, the person proposing to so construct, has to submit a building plan prepared by a civil engineer/architect and apply to the Planning authority in the District Headquarters or Directorate located at the State capital, seeking approval of the plan. In the capital city of Chennai, the planning authority is called the CMDA (viz. Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority). Before granting permissions, the planning authority invites objections from the public through a newspaper publication. It then processes the application seeking planning permission by evaluation of records, inspection of site, scrutiny of the classification of lands and the environment around it. It ensures handing-over of public purpose lands (OSR- Open Space Reserve) meant for park, community halls etc, to the local municipal bodies, and after collection of the prescribed fees, grants planning permission. The planning permission is then published in the government gazette.
After thus completing all the above procedural checks vis-a-vis land, the planning authority then sends the approved plan to the municipal authority who has to evaluate the plan in the context of roads, sewerage, parking, fire-safety & rescue etc. The municipal authority then charges a fee, and issues permission for construction of the building. Once construction is completed, the planning authority evaluates the completed structure and verifies whether all conditions have been complied-with. After ensuring that there is no violation of the permissions, it issues a Completion Certificate. It is on the basis of this completion certificate that water, sewerage & electricity connections ought to be provided by the respective departments.
For various reasons several buildings across Tamilnadu State and Chennai city in particular are constructed without plan permission/approval and/or in deviation of approved plan, resulting in traffic congestions, road encroachments, fire-tenders not having access to the building etc. When such violations/deviations are brought to light, the planning/municipal authority is duty-bound to demolish the buildings or portions which are in violation of the plan. If they fail to do so, citizens file writ petitions in the Madras High Court, which sits as single benches and benches of 2 judges. Cases relating to illegal construction, (without plan permission, and buildings constructed in violation of the approved plan) are heard by a division bench usually headed by the Chief Justice. The bench passes severe orders directing demolition of the buildings besides ordering disciplinary action against officials of the planning/municipal authorities for their failure to take action.
But no body cares for the orders of the High Court and no demolition is done for several years. What is most interesting is that till today, illegal buildings are constructed capriciously.
The same orders are periodically repeated, and people are befooled.
Despite orders of the division bench NOT to provide water supply and electricity connections to illegal constructions, the violators manage to get orders from the same Madras high court to provide water supply and electricity connection.
Do you know why ?
Not a single building constructed within the Madras High Court campus under the auspices of the Chief Justice & other judges’ of the Madras high Court possess building approval or plan permission. After 1990, the following buildings were constructed within the Madras High Court,
11 Floor Records Building
7 Floor Additional Law Chambers
4 Floor Mahila Court Building
4 Floor Alternative Disputes Resolution Building
4 Floor Co-operative Canteen Building
3 Floor Auditorium Building
3 Floor Writ Section Building
3 Floor Bar Council Building
3 Floor High Court New Building
3 Floor Bank / Post Office Building
3 Floor Police Control Room
3 Floor New Library Building
3 Floor Legal Aid Building
All the above buildings have been certified as illegal buildings, by the CMDA itself.
What is most important is that a building committee comprising 5 judges of the Madras High Court headed by its Chief Justice was made to inaugurate these illegal buildings. And not one of them bothered to ensure that plan permission and building permissions were sought and secured. This reflects a mindset bred by institutional arrogance and aristocratic autocracy.
On the one hand, these judges pass orders directing demolition of illegal buildings and on the other they themselves inaugurate such illegal buildings and then dare to call such court buildings as “temples of justice”, and call themselves as “Lords”.
An advocate Ms.Vijayalakshmi has sent a plea to the Chief Minister Ms.Jayalalithaa to demolish all these 13 illegal buildings immediately, so as to uphold the rule of law. Such an initiative is imperative considering the fact that people and government should send a strong message to the judiciary that they are not above the law.
Will CM Jaya, who prides herself as an iron-lady, demolish the illegal high court buildings ???
ps – The image of Shri.Sanjay Kaul is used in his representative capacity. Construction of all illegal buildings commenced before he assumed office.