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HC relief for realty, legal lesson for PMC

The high court on Thursday took Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) to task in a case related to violation of rules in construction of multi-storied buildings in the city.

The division bench of Justice V.N. Sinha and Justice P.K. Jha directed the PMC commissioner to adhere to the building bylaws and condone deviations which are legally permissible.

There is a provision in the PMC Act that allows 20 per cent deviation in the construction of multi-storied buildings. However, PMC had not taken into account the deviation allowed under the law while finalising the list of multi-storied buildings which prima facie appeared to have been built in violation of rules.

The high court order could have significant ramifications for ongoing cases against buildings in the court of the PMC commissioner.

Builders’ Association of India’s Bihar chapter president, Sachin Chandra, said: “If the relevant provisions dealing with condoning violations are taken into consideration, 80 per cent of the buildings concerned would come out of the purview of violations. The court order has come as a big relief for builders as the PMC court was not condoning violations even within permissible limits.”

The high court set guidelines in measuring the height of multi-storied buildings. The bench directed PMC to measure the height from the plinth of the building concerned and not from the road level, as the corporation was doing.

This too has come as a relief for the realty business.

“As the road level is not fixed in Patna, taking it into account for measuring the height of a building was always dicey. Now many buildings would not face demolition orders for height violation. The PMC used to issue these orders on the basis of the measurement of the height of the buildings from road level,” said a builder, who requested anonymity.

Another point of contention was regarding width of the road. It was being observed that PMC was taking into account only the existing width of road and not the actual measure. The difference between the actual and existing width of roads often varied due to encroachment.

The high court bench observed that it was the duty of PMC to remove such encroachments and actual width of roads, which exists in government records, should be taken into account.

Under the rules, the height of a building along a road is decided on the basis of its width. Patna High Court had, in May 2013, banned construction of more than 11-metre-high multi-storied buildings on less than 20-foot-wide roads and 15-metre-high buildings on less than 40-foot-wide roads under the Patna municipal area.

PMC commissioner Kuldip Narayan gave an undertaking to the court on Thursday that the order of the bench would be abided by the corporation in all such cases where decisions are yet to be taken. The commissioner also assured the court that in those cases where decisions have already been taken, the corporation will look afresh if so demanded by the aggrieved parties.

There are altogether 450 cases of violations registered with PMC. Of these, it has taken decisions only in 30 cases while in another 100, it has reserved its order. The PMC is yet to take any action in the remaining cases.

After setting the broader guidelines to be adhered to by PMC while reviewing construction of buildings, the court expressed its displeasure over the commercial use of residential buildings. It directed the civic agency and the department concerned to find out all such buildings and initiate action against them. The high court has directed the state urban development and housing department and PMC to notify new building bylaws latest by October 8 this year.

The bench on Thursday also directed the state to furnish a reply to why power connection was granted to commercial installations coming up in residential areas. The court’s directive was with respect to electricity connection provided to a hotel and a private bank which are coming up in residential areas.

The court directed PMC to take action within two months against all such violations.

The high court refused to relieve the PMC commissioner for a 45-day training programme, mandatory for his promotion. The bench said the stay order on his transfer will be lifted only after completion of work assigned by the court to the commissioner.


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