Friday, December 9, 2011
News Article: Maharashtra: HC remains tough on encroachments
NAGPUR: Maintaining a strict stand on encroachments, the Bombay High Court's Nagpur bench on Friday directed the civic bodies to conduct a survey of all illegal structures on city's roads, footpaths, government lands and open spaces and file a reply in four weeks.
A division bench of justices Dilip Sinha and Ashok Bhangale also asked the NMC and NIT to come up with plans of removing such structures in a time bound manner. The court's observations came while hearing a PIL filed by Dr Gajanan Zade and Manohar Khorgade. Firdos Mirza was counsel for the petitioners.
Citing Bombay Police Act where the cops can take action against the encroachments like pandals put up for religious festivities, petitioners claimed the police were doing nothing. Additionally, the NMC Act empowered the civic body to remove encroachments, but it was also ignoring the issue. The petitioners raised apprehensions about communal tensions due to these illegal structures and demanded a concrete framework to regularize them.
Earlier, the NMC submitted a list of illegal religious structures occupying the city roads and open spaces, as per court's directions. However, the judges clarified that their orders were not limited to religious structures. During last hearing, the court had asked the NMC and commissioner of police to ensure that "no roads were blocked due to any illegal structure". They were also directed to fix responsibility on officers concerned on illegal structures blocking roads and proving impediment to smooth flow of traffic. The CP was asked to assign this task to deputy commissioners of police in respective areas while the NMC commissioner was told to delegate the work to ward officers in all zones of the city.
Taking serious cognisance of authorities' inaction on illegal structures that come up all over the city during the festival season, the court asked the civic body not to give permission to pandals erected on road and blocking the traffic. The court's directives came after petitioners' counsel pointed out dozens of provisions in different laws that empowered corporation to act against encroachments.
He cited the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966, City of Nagpur Corporation Act, 1948, Indian Penal Code and Bombay Police Act. He also cited a Supreme Court judgment directing all state governments to take action in preventing encroachments and illegalities in construction of religious places.