The Supreme Court is set to examine whether a Municipal Corporation can, after the lapse of decades, call upon somebody to produce authorization or a sanctioned plan for a structure constructed decades ago.

The Bench consisting of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal was dealing with a Special Leave Petition in which the members of the Petitioner organization had been conducting business in a building for over 32 years, while the Corporation sought to demolish the property on the grounds that the construction had been done without the requisite permission.

The Madras High Court had declined to intervene in the Writ Petition challenging the notices issued by the Respondent Corporation and the Government, which requested the Petitioner to provide planning permission while failure to do so resulted in notices being issued for the purposes of locking and sealing, as well as demolition.

The Bench accordingly after considering the submissions of the Petitioner noted, "It is the case made out in the petitions that at least a part of structure was in existence in 1962 or even before that. The question is whether the Corporation after lapse of decades can call upon somebody to produce authorisation or sanctioned plan for the structure constructed decades back."

Continuing, the Court also noted, "Moreover, if the Corporation cannot proceed against this part of the structure which was constructed in or before 1962, specific notice will have to be issued by the Corporation to all the occupants, giving them an opportunity of being heard. If different parts of the structures have been erected at different points of time, the Corporation will have to firstly demarcate those different portions and secondly, while issuing notice, give particulars thereof."

Senior Advocates S. Nagamuthu and Mukul Rohatgi along with Advocate-on-Record M.P. Parthiban appeared for the Petitioner while the Respondents were represented by Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul.

The Petitioner organization also informed the Court that no new construction is currently taking place, and whatever construction exists is over seven decades old. It was also submitted that a declaration was made as far back as 1998 stating that the buildings were 40 years old. Property tax has been paid to and collected by the Corporation based on this declaration, and no disputes have been raised.

The Court sought the reply of the Respondent Corporation and posed the matter for October 3, 2023.

Cause Title: M/S Mec Building Tenants Welfare Association v. Greater Chennai Corporation & Ors. [Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 10336/2023]

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