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“Fashionable to demolish homes without following natural justice”, Madhya Pradesh HC on ‘bulldozer action’ in Ujjain

By Shreya Agarwal      13 February, 2024 02:01 PM      0 Comments
Fashionable to demolish homes without following natural justice Madhya Pradesh HC on bulldozer action in Ujjain

JABALPUR: Awarding compensation to two Ujjain residents for ‘bulldozer action’ against their homes, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has observed that it “has become fashionable” nowadays to demolish any house without “complying with the principle of natural justice”.

A single judge bench of Justice Rusia noted, “It has become fashionable now for local administration and local bodies to demolish any house by drawing up proceedings without complying with the Principal of Natural Justice and publish it in the newspaper.”

The Court then granted compensation of Rs. 1 lakh each to the residents Radha Langri and Vimla Gurjar, whose illegally constructed homes were allegedly illegally demolished by the Ujjain Municipal Corporation.

While Langri had argued that two of her houses were demolished without any notice, Gurjar had moved the High Court against the demolition notice to her, which was stayed by the High Court.

The demolition activities had been carried out after a criminal case was registered against one of the family members of the petitioners, according to the order.

On its part, the Ujjain Municipal Corporation informed the Court that the houses were illegal, as they were “raised in violation of the provisions of the Municipal Corporation Act” and “no building permission was obtained by the petitioners before constructing the houses”.

However, refusing to accept the argument, the Court reasoned, “It is not the case of the respondent that in the entire area under the Municipal Corporation Ujjain, these are the only two houses that are constructed without permission to be demolished.”

It added, that while it is “correct that no person has a right to construct the house without building permission or if the building permission is there then no construction is permissible”, “demolition should be the last recourse to be followed that too after giving a proper opportunity to the owner of the house to get it regularised”.

Importantly, the Corporation further pointed out that the petitioners’ were not even the recorded owners of the houses in the revenue records.

It submitted that contrary to the petitioners’ claims, notices were infact served to people in whose names the houses were registered, however, as they refused to accept them, the demolitions were subsequently carried out.

Refusing to accept this argument too in Langri’s case, the Court noted that the mauka panchnama (spot panchnama) was in fact a concocted document in the name of a fictitious person, one Parvez Khan, which was drawn by the officers concerned “without going to the spot”.

It directed the Commissioner of Ujjain Municipal Corporation to initiate disciplinary action against the officers for the same. It reached the conclusion about the forged spot panchnama perusing a note sheet prepared by the building inspector.

The Court observed, “Had the Building Officer gone to the spot he would have been informed about the name of the petitioner about the ownership…There is no such person in the name of Parvez Khan, there is no such document to show that he purchased the property. Only, on the basis of this so-called oral information, the panchnama was drawn and drastic action for demolition has been taken.”

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