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Friday, 11 September 2020

Tribunal non-functional for 9 months, High Court startled

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 10

The Punjab and Haryana High Court dubbed as "startling revelation" the fact that a tribunal under the Punjab Scheduled Roads and Controlled Areas Restriction of Unregulated Development Act, 1963, has not been functioning in the state for nine months now.

The Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by M/s BR Foods and other petitioners against Haryana and others respondents. "A startling revelation has been made that no tribunal is in existence since December 2019. The parties cannot be left without a statutory remedy of filing an appeal before the tribunal," Justice Sharma asserted, while speaking for the Bench.

Faced with the situation, the state counsel undertook that the tribunal would be constituted within two weeks. Taking a note of the undertaking, Justice Sharma directed the placing on record the notification on the tribunal by the next date of hearing. The case would now come up for hearing in the last week of September.

The tribunal hears appeals against the orders of the Director, Town and Country Planning Department, on issues such as demolition of buildings. In the absence of the tribunal, the aggrieved parties have been deprived of statutory remedy of filing an appeal before it.

The Act, that received the assent of the President on November, 22, 1963, before the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, aims at preventing haphazard and substandard development along scheduled roads and in controlled areas in Haryana.

Among other things, it provides for the constitution of the tribunal, consisting of a chairman who is a retired High Court Judge and a member of Chief Engineer's rank having special knowledge about roads and highways.

The tribunal can sit in Chandigarh or at any other place of convenience to hear appeals filed within 60 days of demolition notices issued by the Town and Country Planning Department and its decision on such appeals is final.

The tribunal also hears cases involving construction up to April 28, 1995, in violation of the Act along scheduled roads and otherwise as if these were appeals against the order of the Director. Any case against the Director passed under the provisions of the Act pending in any court of law except a High Court or Supreme Court is transferred to the tribunal.

from The Tribune

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