J. Venkatesan

Status quo granted on September 13 to continue

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict on petitions seeking stay of a Madras High Court judgment directing demolition of four floors of a textile building belonging to TCS (The Chennai Silks) Textiles Ltd. on Usman Road in Chennai.

A Bench comprising Justices H. K. Sema and P. K. Balasubramanyan reserved orders after hearing senior counsel Shanthi Bhushan, C.A. Sundaram, Rajeev Dhavan and Arun Jaitley for the petitioner and senior counsel A. K. Ganguly and counsel V.G. Pragasam for the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority opposing the stay. The Bench said the status quo granted on September 13 would continue till the pronouncement of the order.

The petitioner also challenged the High Court order quashing the amendment to Section 113-A of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971, providing for regularisation of unauthorised structures.

Last month, the High Court had directed the demolition of the top three floors of TCS building and the apex court had rejected the appeal. The demolition was carried out. Subsequently, another petition relating to an adjacent structure was taken up and the High Court ordered demolition of four floors of this building.

Mr. Bhushan contended that the High Court order was unconstitutional as powers of the State Legislature to regularise certain constructions could not be taken away by the judiciary.

When the Bench asked how the petitioner could challenge the order when it was not a party to the proceedings, the counsel said since it affected the rights of the petitioner it was entitled to prefer the appeal. Mr. Sundaram said that by the impugned judgment, the High Court had erroneously precluded the petitioner from availing of certain remedies before the statutory authorities. Mr. Dhavan said the High Court could not order demolition in a contempt petition.

Mr. Jaitley said since the validity of the order quashing Section 113-A had to be examined, the petitioner could be asked not to use the structure said to have been constructed in violation of the sanctioned plan.

Mr. Ganguly opposed the stay contending that right from the beginning, the petitioner had violated the undertaking given to the court as well as to the CMDA. First it told the High Court that the construction would be strictly in accordance with the sanctioned plan and if there was any violation, it would undertake to demolish the structure on its own.