A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday recused itself from hearing a public interest litigation against a government order allowing Lulu Convention and Exhibition Centre Private Limited to construct convention centre and a hotel on the prohibited area at Bolgatty Island in Ernakulam under the town planning scheme.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice A.M. Shaffique passed the order when a petition filed by K.M. Prasad of Eloor came up for hearing.

According to him, the proposed site came under the “water sheet” category, where constructions had been banned as per the approved Structure Plan (General Town Planning scheme) for Central City, Kochi.

However, the government exempted the hotel project from the zoning provisions of the approved town planning scheme.

The High Court had already ruled that the government could not tinker with the scheme and grant permission only for permitted areas under the zoning provision.

In fact, another government order had even prohibited consideration of applications seeking individual exemption from zoning provisions of the approved town planning scheme.

The special permission given to the company was a colourable exercise of power and against the rule of law.

The government had shown a particular interest violating the statutory provisions. The exemption given by the government amounted to an unreasonable discrimination on the basis of wealth and rich status.

The petitioner also pointed out that at the time of sanctioning special permission, the company had not obtained CRZ- cum- environmental clearance from the Kerala State Environment Impact Assessment Authority. The company got the clearance only on August 23, 2013, one month after the date of issuing the special permission. This showed that the government had shown undue interest in according special permission, the petitioner said.

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