HC stays demolitions off lakebed in B'luru

Sarakki residents say BDA notified their land for acquisition in 1997 but never took possessional

The High Court on Friday restrained the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) from demolishing buildings located near the Sarakki lakebed in JP Nagar.

Munilakshmamma and 32 other residents had moved the High Court against the BDA’s decision to demolish their buildings citing a notification it had issued to form JP Nagar VIII Phase layout years ago.

The BDA had issued a preliminary notification on March 23, 1988, to acquire 1,009 acres and one gunta to form a layout, Jayaprakash Narayan Nagar. Munilakshmamma’s land of over two acres at Kottanur village, Uttarahalli hobli, Bengaluru South taluk, was also to be acquired. According to the petitioners, the BDA issued a final notification on September 17, 1997, but neither took possession of their land nor compensated them. Trouble came to the petitioners earlier this week when BDA surveyors came to survey the land, claiming that the authority had acquired it. They orally informed the residents that their buildings will be demolished. The residents immediately moved the High Court seeking stay on the possible demolition.

On Thursday, their counsel, M S Bhagwath, mentioned the matter before the vacation bench, but the judge refused to hear it, saying the case was not in the cause list. High Court officials said it was not possible to include the matter in the cause list as there was a server problem. However, when the counsel filed an interlocutory application citing urgency in hearing the matter, the Chief Justice constituted a special bench to hear it.

The matter came up for hearing before the special vacation bench of Justice H Billappa on Friday. Bhagwath argued that the BDA didn’t take possession of the schedule property for nearly 18 years and that his client had been in lawful possession of it for over five decades, hence the entire acquisition proceedings had lapsed. “The schedule property does not vest with the respondent (BDA) since physical possession of the same has not been taken and remains with the petitioner till this day,” he said.

Citing section 27 of the BDA Act, the counsel contended that the entire scheme conceived by the authority should be implemented within five years, but here was a case where the preliminary notification was issued 18 years ago but the scheme had not been implemented to date and hence it had lapsed. “After preliminary notification, we applied for transfer of khatha, building plan and paid tax and the documents favour us,” the petitioners contended.

Seeking a stay on the demolition, the petitioners said the relief sought by them was not ‘res integra’ (a case or a question that has not been examined or passed upon) and cited two High Court orders, one of 2012 and another of 2014. Justice H Billappa granted an interim stay in the matter.

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