Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the operation of the Amritsar Walled City (Recognition of Usage) Act, 2016, and directed Amritsar Deputy Commissioner to disconnect water and electricity supply to unauthorised commercial establishments, including hotels, in and around the Golden Temple corridor. The operation of Amendment Act of 2019 and the Walled City Amritsar (Recognition of Usage) Amendment Rules, 2019, was also stayed till further orders.
“This court has taken serious view of the manner in which unauthorised construction is going on in and around the Golden Temple corridor. The state and statutory authorities, instead of taking harsh decisions, have come out with the Amritsar Walled City (Recognition of Usage) Act, 2016 to nullify the orders passed by this court from time to time,” the Bench headed by Justice Rajiv Sharma asserted.
For the purpose of disconnecting the supplies, Justice Sharma’s Bench also set 24-hour deadline and directed that Punjab Principal Secretary, Department of Local Bodies, would be personally responsible for compliance of the directions.
The direction on a petition filed by Sarabjit Singh Verka through counsel RS Bains came after Justice Sharma observed that the state was expected to implement rule of law, which was one of its sovereign functions. But the buildings had been constructed without sanction plans and their number, specified in an affidavit, was 352.
Justice Sharma asserted that the land around the Golden Temple was acquired in 1988 for beautification. But unscrupulous elements raised construction in total defiance of the law. The Punjab Assembly then passed the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act, 1995.
Justice Sharma added that despite the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, and framing of Master Plan for Amritsar, unauthorised construction had not been checked by the statutory authorities. Instead of demolishing these, the authorities “encouraged dishonest people to raise the unauthorised constructions hoping that these would be regularized”.
Justice Sharma added that the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act and the Punjab Urban Development Acts were special Acts, while Amritsar Walled City (Recognition of Usage) Act was a general Act. “The mandatory provisions of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act and the Punjab Urban Development Acts could not be rendered nugatory or otiose,” Justice Sharma added.