Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Thursday pulled up the GHMC for its insincere, “namesake” actions against unauthorised constructions in the capital. The corporation staff is seen to be cahoots with those engaged in illegal constructions, the court said in a direct indictment.
Saying that the GHMC’s operations on this count were nothing more than eyewash, the court cited the civic body’s steps like issuing notices in a casual manner against illegal constructions and undertaking a sham of demolitions by “making small holes in the slabs.”
The court said the civic body is citing excuses and doing no serious follow-up to vacate the stay orders obtained by those doing illegal constructions.
A division bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy has ordered the GHMC to be diligent in performing its duties in future and advised it to show no sympathy in the demolition of illegal constructions.
“Drilling small holes in the slabs will not do. Illegal constructions should be demolished wholesale, and the drilling should come down to their foundations,” the bench said.
The court also ordered that those who owned illegal constructions should be made to bear the expenses incurred by the civic body for such demolitions, as contemplated in law. “The civic body’s demolitions should be video-graphed or photographed to show that the constructions have been fully brought down to the ground,” it ordered.
The high court asked the principal district judges of trial courts within the GHMC limits to ensure faster closure of petitions in which interim orders had been passed by way of restricting the GHMC from not taking actions against any unauthorised construction.
The bench was dealing with two petitions filed by G Nageswar Rao and G Praveen Kumar, seeking an order to stop the demolition of certain building floors that were constructed illegally.
One of the petitioners had got permission from the GHMC to construct a two-storied building at Kukatpally but it built an additional three floors illegally. When GHMC sent a demolition notice, the building owner approached a civil court seeking a stay. A single bench judge referred the case to the bench of the Chief Justice to convert this and take up the issue as public interest litigation (PIL) on illegal constructions in the city.
The last time the case came up, the bench had sought details of circle-wise illegal constructions identified by the GHMC and the action taken against them. The court also sought to know how many notices had been issued by each circle against illegal constructions and how many of them had approached the courts.
“If and when adverse orders were issued in the trial courts, did the GHMC make attempts to vacate those orders,” the division bench had wanted to know.
The bench had also had sought details of the action taken against the erring staff and officials who were negligent towards unauthorized constructions. It sought these details from 30 circles of the GHMC, which fell in six zones.
Curiously, only the zonal commissioners of Khairatabad, Secundrabad and Kukatpally provided these details.
The Khairatabad zonal commissioner stated that his officers had detected 166 unauthorised constructions in 2019 and 145 of these were demolished. “Some 21 cases are pending due to the trial court orders,” he stated and submitted that regular monitoring was being done by the staff of each circle to inspect the illegal constructions since 2019.
The Kukatpally zonal commissioner reported that 123 illegal constructions had been identified in five circles of the zone in 2019, and 119 of these were demolished. Four such were pending due to the status quo orders issued by courts. The commissioner also stated that charge memos have been issued against four staff members for negligence.
The Secundrabad zonal commissioner said in his response that 139 unauthorized constructions had been identified in 2019, of which 28 were demolished while 111 were pending due to interim orders issued by the city civil court.
Justice Vijaysen Reddy brought to the notice of the CJ that the highest number of status quo orders was issued by the trial court pursuing cases in the Amberpet circle. He also detailed the CJ about the ground realities of the so-called demolition works done by the GHMC officials.
“Symbolically, they made small holes in the slabs, and later, after winning sympathy from all sides, the illegal constructions will be completed,” Justice Reddy told the chief justice, explaining the modus operandi of the illegal builders and the GHMC officials.
Expressing serious concern over this, the bench directed the GHMC that all the zonal commissioners should submit the photographs of the demolished buildings....