Planning laws are enforced only against the poor and not against the rich people, the Supreme Court has observed. It has said: “The common man feels cheated when he finds that those making illegal constructions are supported by the people entrusted with the duty of preparing and executing master plan/development plan/zonal plan.”

The Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya, while ordering demolition of an unauthorised building in Kolkata and imposing a Rs. 25-lakh fine on the builder, said: “What needs to be emphasised is that unauthorised constructions not only violate municipal laws and concepts of planned development of the particular area but also affect various fundamental and constitutional rights of other persons.”

Justice Singhvi, who wrote the judgment, said, “The reports of demolition of hutments and jhuggi jhopris belonging to the poor and disadvantaged sections of society frequently appear in the print media, but one seldom gets to read about demolition of illegal multi-storied structures raised by the affluent. The failure of the state apparatus to take prompt action against such illegal constructions has convinced citizens that planning laws are enforced only against [the] poor, and all compromises are made by the state machinery when it is required to deal with those who have money power or an unholy nexus with the power corridors. There should be no judicial tolerance of unauthorised constructions by those who consider law to be subservient to them.”

Illegal constructions in different parts of the country have become a menace in the last four decades, the Bench noted, saying that the apex court has “repeatedly emphasised the importance of planned development of the cities and either approved the orders passed by the High Court, or itself gave directions for demolition of illegal constructions.”

“It must be remembered that while preparing master plans/zonal plans, the Planning Authority takes into consideration the prospect of future development and accordingly provides for basic amenities like water and electricity lines, drainage, sewerage, etc. Unauthorised constructions not only destroy the concept of planned development, which is beneficial to the public, but also place unbearable burden on the basic amenities and facilities provided by public authorities. At times, such buildings become hazards for the public and create traffic congestion. Therefore, it is imperative for the public authorities not only to demolish such constructions but also impose adequate penalty on the wrongdoer.”

In the instant case the appellant, Dipak Kumar Mukherjee of Kolkata, was aggrieved by an order passed by the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court reversing that of a single judge approving the demolition of an unauthorised multi-storeyed building by respondent No. 7 — M/s. Unique Construction — on the plot owned by respondent No. 8, Sarjun Prasad Shaw.

The Bench allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment, and fined the builder Rs. 25-lakh for brazen violation of the sanctioned plan and continuance of illegal construction despite a ‘stop work notice.’

“With a view to ensuring that the illegal construction raised by respondent No. 7 is pulled down without delay” the Bench directed the builder to pay within three months the price of the flats, etc. to the purchasers at an 18 per cent per annum interest from the date of payment.

It asked the occupiers of the building to vacate within one month after which the Kolkata Municipal Corporation should undertake demolition.

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