October 3, 2020 11:04:20 pm
The Gujarat High Court on September 22 quashed and set aside orders by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) that had restricted and cancelled permission for construction on a plot in the Tandalja area.
Firoz Muhammad Patel, the petitioner in the case, was granted commencement letter by the Vadodara Mahanagar Sevasadan in January this year to go ahead with construction on a plot that he had purchased from one Feroz Fali Contractor. The cancellation by way of three orders by the Vadodara Mahanagar Sevasadan in July and August had come owing to opposition from neighbouring Hindu residents.
Contractor had transferred the plot of land under the provisions of Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991 or what is popularly known as the Disturbed Areas Act. An application was made by Contractor for the transfer of the plot to Patel in May 2019 and the same was granted under the Act by the deputy collector. A sale deed was registered and by August 2019 the sale was recorded and reflected in the property card as well.
In January this year, permission letter was issued to Patel for construction of residential property on the plot and the layout plan was also approved by the Vadodara Mahanagar Sevasadan authorities.
As per the petition, a service society meant for upkeep and maintenance which came to be registered as Samarpan Housing Service Cooperative Society in 2000 made several representations to various government authorities, alleging the transfer of plot from Contractor to Patel to be in violation of the Disturbed Areas Act and that the ongoing construction being undertaken by Patel was illegal.
On July 14, a prohibitory order was issued under the Gujarat Municipal Provincial Corporation (GPMC) Act against Patel, directing him to stop construction on the ground that the particulars of construction are contrary to sanctioned plans. On July 30, a second prohibitory order was issued directing the petitioners to immediately stop construction.
On July 31, Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Limited (GETCO) issued a notice alleging that Patel had put up illegal construction near a high tension electricity line and that no objection certificate shall be required from the electricity inspector before any further construction.
Notably, the petitioners continued to make appropriate representations to the authorities concerned with regard to these notices, impressing upon their compliance and there being no violation, even requesting the authorities for an independent check on the construction so far, if they so desire.
However, on August 18, Vadodara Mahanagar Sevasadan cancelled the commencement letter for construction that it had granted in January. A temporary electricity connection taken by Patel and provided for by the Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Limited (MGVCL) for the purpose of construction was also cancelled on August 25.
Firoz Mohammad Patel, Hanifaben Mohammad Patel and Sabir Mohammad Patel came to challenge the two prohibitory orders and the cancellation of commencement letter order by the Vadodara Mahanagar Sevasadan by way of petition before the Gujarat HC.
Following an undertaking given by the petitioners before the court of Justice Bhargav Karia that they “shall completely abide” by the sanctioned plans as per the commencement letter and shall also abide by all conditions laid by GETCO and MGVCL, the court quashed and set aside the three orders of the Vadodara Mahanagar Sevasadan of July and August.
Meanwhile, an FIR was filed by one Manish Puranchandra Malhotra, claiming to be the President of Samarpan Housing Service Co-operative Society, against Feroz Fali Contractor, who had sold his plot to Patel, under provisions of the Disturbed Areas Act and IPC sections pertaining to providing false information, breach of trust and forgery.
Malhotra has alleged that Contractor “despite being a Parsi, did not disclose his religion…” in the documents he submitted before the government authorities pertaining to the transfer of plot to a Muslim. The FIR also alleges that Contractor “took advantage of his Muslim-sounding first name… so as to get permission (for transfer of property) under the Disturbed Areas Act.”
Contractor has moved before the Vadodara district court with an anticipatory bail plea and has moved the Gujarat High Court seeking quashing of the complaint. Both are expected to be heard on Monday.
Notably, in December 2019, Gujarat HC had stepped in to permit a Rs 6-crore residential property transaction between a Vadodara-based Hindu businesswoman Gita Goradia and a Muslim businessman and educationist Faizal Fazlani under the Disturbed Areas Act, in the same area of Tandalja in Vasna of Vadodara. The court had struck down the Special Secretary Revenue Department (SSRD) verdict of the sale being non-maintainable.
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