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Wednesday, February 08, 2006 

Demolition orders: To legalise or not?

In Ulhasnagar and Delhi, the HC has ordered demolition of illegal constructions throughout the city. These demolition orders have opened up a Pandora’s Box for the respective state governments. On one hand the state governments cannot face the public angst on the issues, while on another hand by legalizing them the governments break the laws they passed themselves, and also risk invoking the court’s ire.

The reason this issue has become such a talking point is that seeming innocent people are being punished for the crimes committed by the nexus of municipal organisations and builders. Whilst the builders and municipal officers are getting away scot-free, the common man faces demolitions. Hence, in order to set things right, the governments must bring out ordinances to legalise these structures.

Legalisation by itself causes another large set of problems. What to legalise and what not to legalise? There are certain individuals of the view that, in order to maintain its credibility, the government should legalise non-commercial building, but not legalise commercial ones, as the owners of commercial property are not common men. But haven't some of these so-called common men knowingly broken the law, by encroaching upon public spaces?

Also, wouldn't this be a dangerous precedent, where vested interests start citing ignorance of law to mount public pressure on the government to legalise hitherto illegal and unconstitutional things? And wouldn't such an act be overriding the orders of the HC, thereby ridiculing its authority?

This issue is a tricky one, with the legality of such ordinances posing fundamental questions to the relevance of court orders. But at the same time it is heart wrenching to see people lose their homes, for no fault of theirs, just because builders and municipal officers decided to make a few extra bucks.



Related links:

'State not courageous to punish its own'
Indian Government Announces Committee To Legalize Illegal Structures In New Delhi
You’re impotent, HC tells state