But restrains authorities from carrying out demolitions or further sealing of buildings

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered status quo in respect of 27 shops and establishments that had been sealed in the T. Nagar area for violating building rules. However, the court restrained the authorities from sealing other shops or demolition of buildings (including the 27 shops that had been sealed) pursuant to the show cause notices issued to them.

A Bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Dipak Verma, after hearing senior counsel Aryama Sundaram and counsel V. Balaji, for the petitioner, Ranaganathan Street Merchants Association, and Additional Advocate General Guru Krishna Kumar passed this order on a special leave petition from the association against the sealing and closure of shops in T. Nagar on October 31.

Mr. Sundaram submitted that the shops were sealed without even giving the owners an opportunity to put forth their contentions. He said the government had brought an ordinance to regularise the buildings and it was to be made into an Act.

Justice Bhandari asked the AAG, “Is it proper for the High Court to pass an order without even hearing them, when they say they are in existence for 20 or 25 years. Principles of natural justice demand that they must be heard and appropriate orders are passed on their applications. We are not saying anything on merits.”

The Bench while disposing of the present SLP ordered status quo and made it clear that there should be no further sealing or demolition. In respect of the shops already sealed, the Bench asked the High Court to pass appropriate directions after hearing the petitioners when the matter is taken up on November 30. The SLP said it was directed against the sudden closure of famous business establishments, textile showrooms and shops in existence for decades.

While the Chennai Corporation sealed 21 buildings, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Area sealed six buildings on October 31. As a result, not only the owners but also thousands of employees were rendered jobless.

The shopkeepers were aggrieved that buildings were sealed by declaring them as unauthorised and illegal, when their applications for regularisation were still pending before the authorities concerned for whom huge amounts had been collected. The SLP said that in not considering their representations to show cause notices issued to them, they were deprived of an opportunity of proper hearing.

The SLP said the authorities had resorted to vague criteria in declaring the buildings as unauthorised without any guidelines.

Further, terming them serious violations, water and power supply and sewerage connections were disconnected, followed by cancellation of trade licences and these were fraught with serious consequences. It sought a direction to quash the interim order and a direction to open their shops forthwith.