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High Court order to demolish three Trinamool party offices on empty plots of Hidco

The order was passed last Friday by Justice Amrita Sinha in response to a petition filed by New Town resident and CPM leader Saptarshi Deb that illegal constructions were being used as party offices of Trinamul Congress

Sudeshna Banerjee | Published 17.05.24, 10:16 AM

The high court has directed the government to take steps for “removal or demolition of unauthorised structures” on empty plots owned by the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) in New Town.

The order was passed last Friday by Justice Amrita Sinha in response to a petition filed by New Town resident and CPM leader Saptarshi Deb that illegal constructions were being used as party offices of Trinamul Congress.

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The petition had pointed to at least three such constructions — near Pride Plaza hotel, on a green verge near Bisarjan Ghat and on a road opposite Sukhobrishti.

At an earlier hearing, the advocate representing the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) had argued that two structures could not be located, claiming street no.303 in DE Block and street no.143 in BA Block did not exist. At this, the judge had left it to the NKDA to seek help of the petitioner’s advocate in case it was difficult for the authority to identify the unauthorised structures.

After that, a joint inspection took place of NKDA and Hidco officials in the presence of the petitioner and the structures were identified.

The Hidco filed a report in court, stating that it was the owner of the land where the constructions had come up. A separate report was filed by the NKDA, mentioning that they were not aware of the constructions and no permission was sought.

A third report was filed on behalf of the police stating that enquiry had revealed that the alleged constructions were used by the ruling party.

The earlier court order not to use the structure for political purpose was communicated to the attendant of the illegal party office on Street no. 143 in BA Block. Since then, the structure was under lock and key and under vigil, the police report submitted.

The court ordered “the authorities” to take steps for the removal or demolition of all the unauthorised constructions “at the earliest”.

The petitioner’s counsel Samim Ahammed mentioned 35 other such illegal structures being raised in the NKDA area, of which the details, he said, were passed on to the authorities via e-mail on May 9.

The judge directed the counsel to share the information with the advocates of the Hidco and the NKDA as well.

Passing the buck

While both the bodies have agreed to comply with the order, neither has taken upon itself the onus of the execution. The NKDA deals with encroachments on pavements and other public spaces. But an official pointed out that all three plots being Hidco-owned land, the responsibility of clearing the encroachments lay with the owner. “We can at best assist them if there is a written request,” he said. A Hidco official said on Wednesday that they were yet to receive the order officially. “After going through the order, we will check with our legal cell to understand our responsibility.”

The structures have notices from Hidco affixed on their outer walls, giving the encroachers 15 days’ notice to dismantle the structure.

“All three structures have electricity connection, two even have AC installed. How can illegal structures get power? We will wait till May 25 to see if the structures are demolished. Otherwise, we will move court again alleging contempt of court and also bring this to the attention of the Election Commission of India since we are worried about these structures being misused again for gathering of outsiders on Lok Sabha polling day,” said Deb, the petitioner.

Last updated on 17.05.24, 10:17 AM
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