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Court code in building boom

Calcutta High Court on Monday virtually struck down the amended Buildings Rules, 1999, under the Calcutta Municipal Corporation Act, 1980, by declaring its 31 sub-rules and clauses ultra vires. In his 28-page judgment, Justice Barin Ghosh made several observations on constructing buildings of a superior nature in the city.

The CMC Buildings Rules were amended and a gazette notification was issued in April 2000. In the amended rules, the government framed norms for promoters and developers constructing new buildings, particularly apartment blocks.

Following the collapse of some newly-constructed high-rises in the, city and a slew of complaints from buyers of new flats in a large number of buildings, the government was compelled to amend the rules regarding building construction.

But, the judge observed that the procedure the government had adopted to make the amendments was not proper. No proposals were made on behalf of the government and no suggestions were sought before publication of the gazette with the amended rules.

The licenced surveyors of the city civic authorities challenged the amendment of rules in high court. Later, an association of promoters, City Developers’ Association, had joined the case as an added party.

While the surveyors had mainly challenged the government’s procedures in enacting the amendments, the developers had alleged that there were several technical defects in the proposed conditions for constructing new buildings in the city.

The judge observed that promoters and developers should leave more open space around buildings. Instead, they might be allowed to construct more floors. The proposed rules should also frame guidelines on installing lifts in highrises.

The judge said developers or owners of individual houses in the city would appreciate more open space between two buildings. It was suggested that no multistoreyed building be allowed in narrow lanes.

The judgment said the government should send the amendment of rules to the state Assembly within a month, if it wanted to enact the amendment on the basis of the 23 remaining rules, which were not touched by the court in Monday’s ruling. By this order, the court also criticised the government for not sending the amendments to the state Assembly for approval.

Reaction among realtors was mixed. While some referred to certain technical suggestions of the court as “untenable”, others welcomed the “breaking of a deadlock”.

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