Apex court stays Akrama-Sakrama

Plan to regularise illegal buildings runs aground
Last Updated 13 January 2017, 20:10 IST

 The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a move to regularise illegal constructions in Karnataka through a scheme popularly known as Akrama-Sakrama.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud questioned the Congress government's decision: “We don't know what they are doing. Where are they taking the nation?”

Hearing a plea by Namma Bangalore Foundation and others, the bench initially said, “What can we do as the legislature knows best how to deal with the situation? People are living there in those buildings. Maybe they are thinking nationally... as so many illegal colonies are being regularised in Delhi.”

However, the court put on hold the Karnataka High Court order of December 13, 2016. The high court had then lifted its own stay on the scheme to regularise unauthorised constructions and commercial buildings built in residential layouts.  The stay had remained in force from 2007 till December 2016. The Supreme Court’s order will stall revenue generation of thousands of crores at the municipalities.

Lakhs of owners of unauthorised residential and commercial properties were expected to benefit from the scheme.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the NGO, challenged the high court’s order.

He submitted that the state government had decided to extend the cut-off date for such structures from September 15, 2007, to December 30, 2013.

He said, “The consequences of the decision is to make a clear distinction between the abiding class and the violating class”. 

“How can the high court say that it is in public interest? How can change of land use be allowed by amending the Town and Planning Act?” he said.

The Karnataka government, represented by Basava Prabhu Patil, and the BBMP, represented by Sanjay Nuli, defended the high court’s decision.

They maintained the policy fell under the domain of the state legislature and was introduced in the larger public interest. Besides, it was intended to earn revenue for the municipalities, they contended.

The apex court, however, said, “the interim order of the high court would remain stayed.” The state government’s counsel requested the court to expedite the hearing, but the bench refused.

‘It’s a complete halt’

Given the Supreme Court order on Friday, no applications under Akrama-Sakrama can now be processed, the petitioners said. The order implies a complete stay until the matter is heard again by the Supreme Court, they reasoned.

A really long see-saw

Bylaw violations and illegal constructions are rampant in Bengaluru and other cities. Since 2004, the government has been talking about regularising them.

 The High Court stayedregularisation plans in 2007, but vacated the stay in December 2016.

The Supreme Court order cries halt to plans of huge revenue generation.

 Lakhs of owners had expected to benefit from the scheme.

(Published 13 January 2017, 20:09 IST)

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