Saturday, 15 May 2021

Whether the court can permit the reconstruction of the structure or grant compensation to the affected party if Municipal Corporation demolishes said structure in violation of the prescribed procedure?

 The issue involved in these appeals is whether if a municipal corporation demolishes a structure in exercise of powers vested in it but in violation of the procedure prescribed,  can the High Court direct the ‘owner/occupier’ of the building to reconstruct the demolished structure?

14. That brings us to the main issue before us. Is the writ court justified in issuing a direction that since the building has been demolished without following the procedure prescribed by law, the petitioners before the High Court (Respondents before us) be permitted to reconstruct the structure albeit using the same material, and of the same dimensions, as existed earlier? The second direction given is that before commencing of work of reconstruction, the petitioner shall serve a notice to the designated officer. It has further been observed by the High Court that the reconstruction of the structure on the basis of its order will confer no authenticity on the structure. The third important direction of the High Court provides that if the original structures were constructed without obtaining development permission, the structures reconstructed pursuant to the orders of the Court will also be construed to be constructed without proper development permission. Hence the Corporation can initiate action of demolition of the structures, after following the law laid down in Sopan’s case (supra). We have been told that this is the regular practice followed in the Bombay High Court, throughout the State of Maharashtra.

15. We are constrained to observe that we cannot approve of such directions. The High Court itself is aware that some of these structures may have been constructed without permission. If that be so, even if the demolition was carried out without giving the second notice, why should the party who has violated the law by raising the construction without obtaining permission be permitted to raise another illegal structure which only has to be razed to the ground, after following the procedure prescribed by law? Why should the Nation’s wealth be misutilised and misused for raising an illegal construction which eventually has to be demolished?

16. We make it clear that we do not approve the action of the Municipal Corporation or its officials in demolishing the structures without following the procedure prescribed by law, but the relief which has to be given must be in accordance with law and not violative of the law. If a structure is an illegal structure, even though it has been demolished illegally, such a structure should not be permitted to come up again. If the Municipal Corporation violates the procedure while demolishing the building but the structure is totally illegal, some compensation can be awarded and, in all cases where such compensation is awarded the same should invariably be recovered from the officers who have acted in violation of law. However, we again reiterate that the illegal structure cannot be permitted to be re­ erected.


Supreme Court of India
Municipal Corporation Of Greater ... vs M/S Sunbeam High Tech Developers ... on 24 October, 2019
Author: Deepak Gupta

Bench: Deepak Gupta, Aniruddha Bose
Read full Judgment here: Click here
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