The judge held that the building plan permissions granted by the Corporation must be deemed to be valid until they were set at naught in a manner known to law

The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday quashed demolition, stop construction and lock and seal notices issued by Madurai Local Planning Authority (LPA), chaired by the Collector, to a number of multi-storeyed residential as well as commercial buildings for having obtained building plan permission from the Municipal Corporation and not the LPA.

Justice R. Sudhakar held that the notices issued by the LPA were arbitrary and without any jurisdiction as the Corporation had issued the building plan permissions only in accordance with the powers delegated on it in December 1993 by the then Collector who acted in accordance with the power of delegation provided under the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act.

The judge held that the building plan permissions granted by the Corporation must be deemed to be valid until they were set at naught in a manner known to law. He pointed out that there was nothing wrong in the local body having given permission for constructing the buildings in exercise of the powers delegated on it through the 1993-proceedings of the Collector.

On the LPA’s contention that the plan permissions had been given in violation of the rules and regulations, the judge said that disputing the authority of the official who had given the permission was one thing and alleging non-adherence to rules and regulations were another thing. Both the issues could not be mixed together for initiation of action could not be initiated against building owners.

Answering the question of authority in favour of the Corporation, the judge said that the LPA would be free to initiate separate action in accordance with law if the building constructors had violated any specific rule or condition. But the LPA could not attempt to improve its case, beyond what was mentioned in the notices issued by it to the builders, through submissions made before the court.

On the contention that the Corporation had granted permissions in violation of Multi-storeyed and Public Buildings Rules, 1973, the judge said that the issue was shrouded in controversy as the Corporation counsel G.R. Swaminathan had contended that those rules would apply only to Municipalities and not to the Corporation which would have to follow only the rules framed in 1942.

The counsel also pointed that as per Section 4 of the Madurai Municipal Corporation Act 1971, it would have to follow all rules in force on the date of commencement of the Act. But the Multi-storeyed and Public Buildings Rules relied upon by the LPA were framed only in 1973 and therefore they would not be binding upon the local body.

On yet another argument of the LPA that the Corporation itself had initiated action against some of its officials for having granted building plan permissions through fraud, the judge said that it was a subject matter of a departmental enquiry and therefore mere issuance of charge memos could not be a factor to conclude that a fraud had actually been committed.

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