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Blow for Karnataka Govt as SC Put Brakes on ‘Akrama-Sakrama’ Scheme

The bench declined the request of the state government, which had entered a caveat to expedite the hearing. The SLP has been converted to a civil appeal and will be heard in due course of time.

In a setback to the state government, the Supreme Court on Friday effectively put the brakes on the controversial Akrama-Sakrama scheme which allows regularisation of unauthorised constructions.

Admitting the special leave petitions (SLP) filed by the Namma Bengaluru Foundation and MP Rajeev Chandrashekar against the December 13, 2016 verdict of the Karnataka High Court which upheld the scheme, the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar asked the authorities not to process applications filed under this scheme.

The bench declined the request of the state government, which had entered a caveat to expedite the hearing. The SLP has been converted to a civil appeal and will be heard in due course of time.

The petitioners contended that the high court failed to consider the effect of the newly inserted section 76FF of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961, is uncanalized and excessive vis-à-vis section 14A of the Act concerning the master plan where changes are permitted only if they are in public interest and doesn’t contravene any law.

The petitioners also stated that BBMP’s building bylaws permit not more than 5% deviation whereas the scheme proposes to regularize 50% violations.

The petitioners stated that the HC, while dismissing their petitions based on the apex court’s decision in relation to a scheme under the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, failed to appreciate the reasons safeguards in the Tamil Nadu enactment. The enactments under challenge, by not only condoning the violations, but also validating illegalities, lead to the unwinding of all efforts made to ensure the enforcement of right of life and safety of citizens at stake, as had been sought to be achieved through the enactment of the KTCP Act in the first place “ the petitioners said seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention.

What high court had said

“After careful perusal of the materials placed on record, we are of the opinion that, all care and precautions are taken to see that there is no compromise with respect to storm water drains, tank bed areas, river courses, canals, area below high tension electrical lines, parks, playgrounds, open space for providing civic amenities, coastal regulation zones, etc. No development in basement area or usage in contravention to the bye-laws. Certification from a structural engineer is also made compulsory . The rules clearly show that no development shall be regularized unless violation in respect of the change in land use is first regularised,” a division bench headed by Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee had observed while dismissing PILs filed by Citizens for Mangaluru Development and others.

The high court also said that razing of so many (1.5 lakh odd) buildings would be a national waste and also create a law and order problem. The Akrama-Sakrama scheme was refurbished by inserting the new section 76FF into the KTCP Act, 1961 and also incorporating amended sections 321-A of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976 and sections 187-A of the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964 incorporated under the Akrama Sakrama scheme is that up to 50% violations with respect to setback, FAR in residential buildings and 25% in non-resident commercial buildings can be regularized .

Meanwhile, BBMP and the petitioner reacted in a predictable manner. “We can’t receive applications until the stay is vacated,” said BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad.“

The petitioner Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “This collusion around public money and land lies at the crux of corrupt politics in Bengaluru. Through Akrama-Sakrama, the government was more actively rewarding the culture of corruption. In its current form, the message was: a lawbreaker stands to benefit more than a law abiding citizen! It was designed to bail out builders, the rich and powerful from their illegalities who, instead of being punished under law, are benefiting financially .The reality was that Akrama-Sakrama legalized all illegalities of crooked real estate developers and other high-income home-owner violators. He added, “Akrama-Sakrama was symbolic of the failures of governance and how vested interests have corroded every facet of governance. I’ve repeatedly urged the government to consider a reworked proposal .

Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO, Namma Bengaluru Foundation, said this signals the dawn of hope, appropriately so with the onset of Sankranti.”

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