Shimla: In a matter pertaining regularization of unauthorized construction by the state government, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Additional Secretary, Town and Country Planning, Director, Department of Town and Country Planning and Town Planner.

The orders have been passed by a Division Bench of Justice Sabina and Justice Satyen Vaidya, on a writ petition filed by the petitioner Hitanshu Jishtu.

The petitioner has alleged that the entire state is in danger on account of erratic, irrational and uncontrolled construction of housing and commercial complexes.

The petitioner has further alleged that reckless construction and careless disposal of debris has disturbed the eco plans of the area.

He also alleged that thousands of unauthorized constructions have not been raised overnight and the government machinery has failed to act against the persons responsible for unauthorized construction.

The petitioner has alleged that respondents have yet again notified and amended the Town and Country Planning Rules, which virtually nullifies the decisions rendered by the State’s High Court and Supreme Court of India from time to time.

The petitioner has further alleged that the respondent State is in the process of finalization of Development Plan for Shimla Planning area as well as other planning areas of the State and such Draft Development Plan of Shimla has already been notified in a notification dated February 8, 2022.

The Draft Development Plan notified by the respondents is also contrary to the observations and directions issued by the National Green Tribunal.

The petitioner has alleged that notification of development plans as notified in a notification dated February 14, 2022, shall have no effect on the applications received regarding unauthorized construction and on the owners and occupiers to whom notices stand issued under relevant provisions.

The petitioner has prayed for quashing and setting aside the Rule 35 of Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning Rules, 2014 (Amended up to 2019), as well as Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning Rules, 2019 (4th Amendment), being wholly unconstitutional and violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, and also being inconsistent and contrary to the judgments rendered by State’s High Court and Supreme Court of India, from time to time with regard to the issue of unauthorized construction.

The petitioner has also prayed to direct the respondents, not to regularize or exempt any unauthorized structure/building/ development for which applications have been received by the respondents in terms of Himachal Pradesh Town & Country Planning (Amendment) Act, 2016, as well as other unauthorized constructions/deviations which are beyond the permissible limit and for which notices stand already issued under TCP, Act 1977 and H.P. M.C Act, 1994.

The petitioner has further prayed to direct respondents not to notify/amend Act or Rules which amounts to regularizing and compounding total unauthorized construction throughout the state.

The petitioner has prayed for the constitution of Court Monitored Committee headed either by Retired Supreme Court Judge(s) or by High Court Judge(s), so as to initiate a fact-finding enquiry and subsequently take appropriate action against the officials during whose tenure the unauthorized construction and deviations took place throughout the state.

The respondents have been directed to file a reply and the matter has been fixed for May 9.

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Navneet Rathore is a Shimla based journalist having two-years of experience in the field of journalism. Navneet is a post-graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and is specialised in crime, education, health, environment, agriculture and Horticulture beats.