The Bombay High Court at Goa has ordered the Quela village panchayat to demolish a structure that was constructed in an open space allegedly belonging to a Housing Society, for having been constructed without any permissions whatsoever and by ignoring demolition orders issued by the panchayat.
Hearing a petition filed by one Sudesh Kurade, a member of the Sarthak Garden Housing Society, the High Court took a dim view of the “scant respect for the law” shown by Anand Prabhakar Sawant, who built a completely new structure despite several complaints and helped by the village panchayat which dragged its feet and the Directorate of Panchayats, which granted an ex-parte stay no sooner a demolition order was ultimately issued.
Kurade and the other members of society noticed that somewhere in July 2021 Sawant started preparation of construction in open space which is behind the building Nos.F1 and F2 by digging pits for laying foundation to erect columns. He claimed that the said open space is in exclusive possession of the residents of Sarthak Garden Co-operative Society and that such open space has to be kept open to the sky for the purpose of use of the members of the society. No construction activity is permitted on such open space. Sawant, however, claimed that he was a co-owner of the property and went ahead with the construction.
“We are constrained to note that many petitions have been filed in this Court with regard to illegal constructions, and most of the parties routinely urged that either houses or structures collapse while undertaking minor repairs or without carrying out repairs with the permission of the Panchayat. In fact, under the guise of repairs, entirely new structures and that too without approved plans and permissions, are found to be erected and thereafter, whenever challenged and rejected, ask for regularisation. Thus, the modus operandi is to secure permission for minor repairs only from Panchayat, bypassing other authorities and based on such permissions of minor repairs, but in defiance of all its conditions, demolish the old structure and replace it with entirely new construction and that too with an extended/larger area than the old one,” the High Court Justice M S Sonak observed.
“The idea behind it is to pass all the new structures as the old repaired ones. In this case (Sawant) did not bother to secure permissions from any authorities, knowing fully well that such permissions could not have been granted in a designated open space,” the High Court observed.
“Even the Panchayat admitted that no permissions were applied or given. Since the construction was coming up in the space designated as open space by the planning and panchayat authorities, there was no question of granting permissions even if (Sawant) had bothered to apply for the same. Therefore, (Sawant) chose the easy way out of construction without any permission from any authorities, perhaps confident the panchayat would ignore the brazen illegalities and the proceedings could be unduly delayed before the appellate authorities like the Director of panchayats,” the High Court also observed.
“Any indulgence will only encourage this trend of defying all construction and planning laws simply because the panchayats or other local authorities ignore or do not promptly act in such matters. An impression is fast gaining ground that illegal constructions must be completed and occupied at the earliest. If any action is initiated, then the same must be contested based upon ex-facie false and frivolous defences. After such defences fail, pleas are made for regularisation,” the High Court said adding that “a person who has scant respect for the procedure and law and who carried out the brazen illegal construction cannot be protected by seeking or filing an application for regularisation.”
“We hereby quash and set aside the ex-parte stay granted by the Additional Director of Panchayat. In any case, this ex parte stay cannot protect a construction carried out in an open space. We direct the Panchayat to demolish the illegal construction carried out by respondent No.6 in Survey No.7/3(part) of Village Queola within a period of two months from today and recover the entire demolition costs from Sawant,” the High Court said.