The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has requested the state government to set up a special tribunal for trying the thousands of cases pending with the town planning wing after it was discovered that builders were going ahead with unauthorised constructions.
Were a separate tribunal to be constituted on the lines of an administrative tribunal or a special court for land-grabbing cases, it could be beneficial for the corporation and builders who are both looking for a speedy disposal of cases.
The GHMC recently wrote to the municipal administration and urban development (MA&UD) department to initiate the process for the setting up of a separate tribunal for the town planning wing. Officials said the request would be forwarded to the legal wing of the general administration department ( GAD) for further action.
GHMC officials said that there was a provision for a tribunal under New Building Rules (GO 86) introduced by the MA&UD department in March 2006. However, no such proposal was sent to the civic body by the corporation. Now, an amendment in the GHMC Act has been proposed for the constitution of a tribunal for such cases.
Officials said over 5,500 cases, all pertaining to the town planning wing, are pending in courts. Nearly 1,500 cases are before the AP high court with another 4,000 cases pending in lower courts. For most of the cases related to illegal constructions, the owners have approached courts following notices for demolition issued by the GHMC. "The proposal for setting up a tribunal for town planning cases has been sent to MA&UD department.
Extra care would be taken till then to monitor cases regularly," GHMC special commissioner Navin Mittal told TOI. Sources said that the department was aware of staff who advise owners on how to approach courts after receiving notices pertaining to unauthorised construction.
In some cases, despite status quo orders, owners continue with illegal constructions like in the case of the Ayyappa society in Madhapur. In some cases, no demolition or further action was initiated against builders even after a stay order was vacated by eligible courts. "Our aim is to get stay orders vacated for cases pending for over six months by filing vacation petitions in courts, especially with regard to illegal buildings," a GHMC town planning officer said.
During Sameer Sharma's tenure as the GHMC commissioner, some exercises were performed to streamline cases since certain town planning staff were believed to be in cahoots with builders and land owners.
The then commissioner had issued a circular directing officials to provide information on court notices to standing counsels within a week of receipt. In vigilance cases, officers failing to produce records for the perusal of the inquiry officer would be held responsible for the omission and disciplinary action would be initiated against them. However, no action has been taken against any town planning officer for laxity.
According to officials, over 5,500 cases, all pertaining to the town planning wing, are pending in courts. Nearly 1,500 cases are before the AP high court with another 4,000 cases pending in lower courts.