New Delhi: The Supreme Court said there should be zero judicial tolerance for illegal constructions of buildings and other structures as the menace has acquired "monstrous proportion".

In a hard-hitting verdict, a bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said unauthorised constructions not only violate municipal laws and the concept of planned development but also affect various fundamental and constitutional rights of other people.

"In last four decades, the menace of illegal and unauthorised constructions of buildings and other structures in different parts of the country has acquired monstrous proportion," the bench observed while directing a Kolkata-based real estate company to demolish its unauthorized building and also imposed a cost of Rs 25 lakh on it.

"The common man feels cheated when he finds that those making illegal and unauthorised constructions are supported by the people entrusted with the duty of preparing and executing master plan/development plan/zonal plan," the bench said.

It further observed that seldom any unauthorized construction by economically affluent people get demolished.

"The reports of demolition of hutments and jhuggi jhopris belonging to poor and disadvantaged section of the society frequently appear in the print media but one seldom gets to read about demolition of illegally/unauthorisedly constructed multi-storied structure raised by economically affluent people," the bench said.

The Apex Court passed the order on an appeal challenging Calcutta High Court's order allowing construction of a multi-storied building by Unique Construction company.
The appeal was filed by Kolkata resident Dipak Kumar Mukherjee seeking court's direction to demolish the building.

The Apex Court allowed his appeal and directed the municipal body to demolish the unauthorised structure.

It asked the company to refund the money paid to it by the purchasers of flats in the building with 18 percent interest.

"In the prevailing scenario, the representative of the company might have thought that he will be able to pull strings in the power corridors and get an order for regularisation of the illegal construction but he did not know that there are many mortals in the system who are prepared to take the bull by horn and crush it with iron hand," the bench said while appreciating the legal battle fought by Mukherjee against the company.

It also expressed concern that government authorities take action only when the poor are involved in illegal construction.

"The failure of the state apparatus to take prompt action to demolish such illegal constructions has convinced the citizens that planning laws are enforced only against poor and all compromises are made by the state machinery when it is required to deal with those who have money power or unholy nexus with the power corridors," the bench said.

"We have prefaced disposal of this appeal by taking cognisance of the precedents in which this court held that there should be no judicial tolerance of illegal and unauthorised constructions by those who treat the law to be their sub-servant..." the bench said.


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