Unauthorized Constructions / The Revival of Ray LXX

Chief Justice A.N. Ray, speaking for a Two-Judge Bench of this Court, in K. Ramadas Shenoy v. Chief Officer, Town Municipal Council, (1974) 2 SCC 506 observed, Municipality functions for public benefit and when it “acts in excess of the powers conferred by the Act or abuses those powers then in those cases it is not exercising its jurisdiction irregularly or wrongly but it is usurping powers which it does not possess”. This Court held, an unregulated construction materially affects right of enjoyment of property by persons residing in a residential area. Hence, it is the duty of Municipal Authority to ensure the area is not adversely affected by unauthorized construction. These principles were re-affirmed by a Two-Judge Bench in Dr. G.N. Khajuria v. Delhi Development Authority, (1995) 5 SCC 762. Also see, Friends Colony Development Committee v. State of Orissa, (2004) 8 SCC 733. Priyanka Estates International (P) Ltd. v. State of Assam, (2010) 2 SCC 27 lamented, earlier decisions had not resulted in enhancing compliance. If unauthorized constructions were allowed to stand or are “given a seal of approval by Court”, it was bound to affect public at large. The jurisdiction and power of Courts to indemnify citizens, who are affected by an unauthorized construction erected, could be utilized to compensate ordinary citizens. Esha Ekta Apartments Coop. Housing Society Ltd. v. Municipal Corpn. of Mumbai, (2013) 5 SCC 357 further observed, unauthorized constructions destroy planned development and place an unbearable burden on basic amenities provided. The Court held, it was imperative to not only demolish such constructions but also to impose a penalty on wrongdoers involved. These concerns have been reiterated in Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority v. State of Kerala, (2019) 7 SCC 248; Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority v. Maradu Municipality, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 3352; Bikram Chatterji v. Union of India, (2019) 19 SCC 161.

Hon’ble Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Supertech Limited v. Emerald Court Owner Resident Welfare Association, [Civil Appeal No. 5041 of 2021].