SC: Re-erecting illegal structures impermissible even if demolished illegally

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 24th October 2019, in the matter of Municipal Corporation Of Greater Mumbai & Ors. v. M/S Sunbeam High Tech Developers Private Ltd. pronounced that if the Municipal Corporation violates the procedure while demolishing the building but the structure is totally illegal, some compensation can be awarded and, in all cases where such compensation is awarded the same should invariably be recovered from the officers who have acted in violation of law. However, the illegal structure cannot be permitted to be re­ erected.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

The exercise of the power of demolition which affects the property of the citizens of this country must be exercised in an absolutely fair and transparent manner. Rules in this regard must be followed. At the same time, the Court has to balance the private interest with the larger public interest. Cities and towns must be well planned and illegal structures must be demolished. Rule of law comprises not only of the principles of natural justice but also provides that the procedure prescribed by law must be followed. Rule of law also envisages that illegal constructions which are constructed in violation of law must be demolished and there can be no sympathy towards those who violate law. (Para 2)

The action of demolition without following the procedure prescribed by law is illegal. (Para 13)

If a structure is an illegal structure, even though it has been demolished illegally, such a structure should not be permitted to come up again. (Para 16)

If the Municipal Corporation violates the procedure while demolishing the building but the structure is totally illegal, some compensation can be awarded and, in all cases where such compensation is awarded the same should invariably be recovered from the officers who have acted in violation of law. However, the illegal structure cannot be permitted to be re­ erected. (Para 16)

Even if the rights of private individuals have been violated in as much as sufficient notice for demolition was not given, in such cases structures erected in violation of the laws cannot be permitted to be re­erected. (Para 18)

The Courts must not be hidebound by old decisions and the law must develop in accordance with changing times. (Para 19)

 Copy of judgement: Judgement_24-Oct-2019

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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