HC expresses concern over number of homeless citizens

‘Why can’t ownership of more than two houses be barred?’

Published - February 05, 2020 01:26 am IST - CHENNAI

Observing that the issue of homelessness could be solved only if curbs were imposed on those who own more than one house, the Madras High Court on Tuesday wanted to know from the Centre as to why families should not be prohibited from purchasing more than one house, why non-resident Indians should not be prevented from purchasing houses in the country and why speculative sale of properties within five hours should not be banned.

Justices N. Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose raised the questions while dismissing an appeal preferred by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) against a single judge’s order quashing a land acquisition proceeding for non-compliance of mandatory procedures.

Expressing grave concern over a majority of the citizens in the country remaining homeless, the judge wanted to know by March 6 the number of families that own more than two houses.

The other questions posed by the judges were: “Why not the government restrict the families/individuals from purchasing/possessing more than one housing unit/flat/plot by defining what is meant by single housing unit till ‘Housing for all’ is achieved? Why not the government charge 100% more or extra stamp duty to discourage buying more than one house/flat by a family/individual while purchasing second housing unit/flat at the registration level itself?

“Why not the government conditionally allow the families to purchase more than one house/flat/plot, provided the said family pays 100% extra statutory dues like property tax, electricity charges, water and sewerage charges on the second property? Why not the government prohibit NRIs settled permanently in foreign countries from purchasing housing units/plots/flats in an effort to bring down the cost of housing unit/plots in India?”

Empathising with millions of citizens living on platforms, slums, under trees and on banks of water bodies without shelter and impressing upon the Centre to expedite the process of providing affordable housing, the judges said: “Though single housing unit is enough for a family, considering the future of the children, a family can be allowed to have an additional housing unit on payment of additional charges and the third unit should be completely prohibited.

Affordable housing

“By this restrictions, not only the price of housing units will come down but the persons who do not have sufficient means to purchase housing units will also be in a position to purchase the property. It will further go a long way in preventing the real estate people from converting the agricultural lands into commercial properties or housing properties and thereby the agricultural lands could also be saved.”

Authoring the order, Justice Kirubakaran also said: “Every individual has the right to purchase/own more than one house and as on date there is no restriction to own more than one house. However, such individuals should think of rights of others to have a house and avoid grabbing houses which should be available to others.

“Right to own property/properties by citizens is a constitutional right under Article 300A. Right to property which was a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(f) of the constitution is taken away by deleting (f) from Article 19(1) and placed it as Article 300A by virtue of 44th amendment. Hence, the government has got power to put restrictions to buy properties till ‘Housing for all’ is achieved.”

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