SC quashes order rejecting sanction to Gowda’s building

NEW DELHI:  In a relief to Union Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, the Supreme Court today set aside a Karnataka High Court order quashing sanction granted to him and a BJP MLA to construct a five-storey building in Bengaluru.

“Insofar as the present case is concerned, in spite of the clout that Sadananda Gowda may have wielded in Karnataka, his actions relating to the construction of the building on his plot of land do not suggest any abuse, as mentioned above,” a bench of justices Madan B Lokur and S A Bobde said.

The apex court set aside the high court judgment quashing the orders sanctioning the building construction plans in favour of Gowda and BJP lawmaker D N Jeevaraj by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and had directed the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to take action against them for violating conditions in the lease-cum-sale agreement.

Granting relief to the leader, the bench said that it was difficult to assume that Gowda exercised his influence as chief minister to arm-twist the BBMP as since the inspection report was not entirely in his favour.

Statutory bodies may be and are influenced by politicians, but “a lot depends on the facts of each case and the surrounding circumstances,” it said, adding that this was not the case here.

The court, in its 26-page judgement, said that there has been no violation of the lease-cum-sale agreement or the sanction plan for construction such as to violate the lease- cum-sale agreement with the BDA.

“Undoubtedly, there are some deviations in the construction which will surely be taken care of by the BBMP which has categorically stated on affidavit that an occupancy certificate will be given only if the building constructed conforms to the sanctioned plan and the building bye-laws.

“In view of the above, we find no good reason to uphold the order passed by the high court allowing the writ petition and it is accordingly set aside,” the bench added.

The apex court order came on appeals filed by Gowda and former Food and Civil Supplies Minister Jeevaraj against the 2012 high court judgement quashing the sanctioned plan of construction on the site.

The high court had given its verdict on a PIL filed by advocate Nagalakshmi Bai who had contended that the two had violated the lease-cum-sale agreement.

Nagalaxmi, the petitioner before high court, had said that the two adjacent plots were amalgamated despite refusal by the BDA and a composite or consolidated building was impermissibly constructed on them and therefore there was a per se violation of the lease-cum-sale deed entered into by Gowda and Jeevaraj with the BDA.

The constructed building was not in conformity with the sanctioned plan approved by the BBMP and therefore there was a violation of the lease-cum-sale agreement with the BDA and the affidavit in the form of an undertaking given to the BDA contrary to the lease-cum-sale deed, the building was intended to be used for commercial purposes, Nagalaxmi had contended.

Allowing the petition, the high court had asked the BBMP to cancel the sanction given to Gowda and Jeevaraj. This order of high court was assailed in the appeal before Supreme Court.

The implementation of the high court was stayed by the apex court in 2013.

The apex court observed that it failed to “understand how it has been found by the high court that amalgamation of the two plots (assuming it to be so) is a breach or violation of the leasecum-sale agreement.

“Be that as it may, factually there is no subdivision of the plots and to that extent there is no violation of condition No. 4 of the lease-cum-sale agreement.” it added.

The bench also said that it is nobody’s case that more than one building has been constructed on either of the plots or that the building or any part thereof is used as a shop or warehouse etc. Therefore, this need not detain us any further, more particularly since the buildings are not yet completely constructed.

“In our opinion, the high court was in error in coming to the conclusion that the buildings constructed on the two plots were not in accordance with the sanctioned plan. The buildings were and are still under construction and it is too early to say that there has been a violation of the sanctioned plan,” it said.

The apex court also observed that nobody has a case that more than one building has been constructed on either of the plots or that the building or any part thereof is used as a shop or warehouse etc.

The court also took note of Nagalaxmi’s another grievance that the construction is such that the building is capable of being used as a commercial complex, and said “the building is not yet complete and we cannot guess why shutters have been put up by Sadananda Gowda and Jeevaraj”.

“…We also cannot ignore the contention put forward that 20 per cent of the building can be permissibly used for a commercial purpose. If the putting up of shutters is suggestive of unlawful commercial use of a part of the building, the BDA and the BBMP will certainly consider the matter for whatever it is worth, including whether 20 per cent of the building can be commercially exploited or not,” the bench said. (PTI)




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