Telangana HC blames field staff for illegal buildings in city

The High Court will monitor all the recalcitrant officers who are turning a blind eye to the rampant illegal and unauthorised constructions

Hyderabad: Taking note of the role of junior level officials of the GHMC’s town planning section for the first time for the rampant illegal constructions in the city, the Telangana High Court on Thursday warned that heads will roll at the higher echelons down to field-level staff if any delinquency is noticed among the staff in curbing illegal constructions.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy made it clear that the High Court will monitor all the recalcitrant officers who are turning a blind eye to the rampant illegal and unauthorised constructions taking place right under their nose.

Chief Justice Kohli told the staff of the GHMC that bells were ringing aloud, and errant officials must get ready to be axed if they continued with the same working style. "If they don't pick up the thread even now, they will face the consequences," the CJ said.

The bench opined that the town planning officers at all levels were in connivance with builders of illegal constructions, and hence they were ignoring violations.

Justice Vijaysen Reddy, during the course of arguments, apprised Chief Justice Kohli of the facts on the ground, saying, "The officials, on the one hand, threaten persons resorting to illegal constructions that their constructions will be demolished; and on the other hand, they show them the way to approach the lower courts and obtain a stay. After obtaining the stay, they would complete the construction. Later, the builders would apply for BRS and get their constructions regularised. They never file vacate stay petitions against the protection being given to the violators. This is practice going on."

Justice Reddy explained to the CJ that the field staff at the GHMC does not come into the picture even as their role is pivotal in restraining persons from resorting to illegal constructions. Rather, on the negative side, they alert violators as to when the inspection would be conducted and who complained against the ongoing illegal construction. These persons are so crucial that they too should be made accountable, Justice Reddy told to the Chief Justice.

Taking note, Justice Kohli inquired about the vigilance department of the GHMC and asked whether the GHMC ever took the action against the staff and tried to prosecute the violators or any penal action was initiated. The CJ asked for the details.

Stressing that ultimately the buck should stop at the table of the senior officers, the CJ said delegation of authority does not mean abrogation of authority, and she directed the zonal commissioners to file their individual affidavits in a tabulated form with all the information.

The directions are that all the six zonal commissioners in the GHMC, responsible for 30 circles and 150 wards, file their individual affidavits, duly furnishing the details of how many illegal constructions they had identified under their jurisdiction till the end of 2019.

They must state the number of cases of violations they booked in each circle and how many illegal constructions have been demolished and the number and details of the prosecution initiated in those circles. They must also state how many persons approached the courts and obtained a stay on demolition orders and what steps the officials took to vacate such stay orders. The court directed them to file their affidavits furnishing these details in a tabulated form.

The court also directed the municipal commissioner of Peddamberpet municipality of Ranga Reddy district to submit the details of that municipality.

These directions have been issued by the division bench in a petition filed by one Gottimukula Nageshwar Rao seeking a prayer not to demolish the unauthorised structure he had raised on a house in Kukatpally mandal. The court has converted the petition as a PIL.

Data should be submitted to the court within four weeks and the next hearing was fixed for April 15.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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