Akrama-Sakrama stuck till HC gives green signal 

Read- press report on 29-05-2014 


BANGALORE: The much-touted Akrama-Sakrama scheme may not get off the blocks at all, if you read between the lines of what law minister TB Jayachandra has to say. The minister on Tuesday made it clear the state cannot implement the scheme until it gets the nod from the Karnataka high court, which is hearing a number of petitions challenging it. Besides, it also goes against the spirit of a couple of Supreme Court orders. 

The minister’s statement comes a fortnight after the cabinet approved the controversial law which seeks to regularize building violations. “The legal department is at it. What we’re doing right now is issuing the final notification. The matter is before the HC and we cannot implement the scheme until we get the go-ahead,” he told TOI. The government fears a legal backlash if it becomes law. 

Individuals and groups of citizens who have sought the intervention of the high court include the Citizens’ Forum for Mangalore Development and Abhyudaya, the federation of JP Nagar Residents’ Welfare Associations (7th and 8th block). 

It violates SC orders 

The proposed Sakrama Act, which aims to fill the cash-strapped BBMP’s coffers, is in violation of more than one Supreme Court judgment. 

In the Friends Colony Development versus the State Of Orissa & others case, the apex court had pointed out that municipal authorities are authorized to regulate aspects of a building like height, percentage of the plot, size of yards et al. “…All these (regulations and restrictions) do achieve the larger purpose of ensuring public safety or general welfare,” the court had said. 

But if the zoning and regulation laws are violated, it will take a toll on public welfare, posing a risk to the building’s occupants and inconveniencing them, the order added. 

Although municipal laws permit regularization of some deviations, the court noted these must be exceptions, that too in extraordinary cases. And, even such exceptions, the SC said, cannot be allowed when a professional builder is involved. 

“…Cases of professional builders stand on a different footing as compared to an individual constructing his own building. They are supposed to understand laws better. Deviations by them can be assumed to be deliberate and aimed at earning profits. They deserve to be dealt with sternly,” the court order says. “…But unfortunately, the exception, with the lapse of time and frequent exercise of the discretionary power conferred by such an exception, has become the rule,” it said. 

The Karnataka government, however, appears to have ignored the ruling while attempting to push the final notification on the scheme. 

In the case of Shanti Sports Club versus the Union of India, the SC noted: “…Economically affluent people and those with support from political and executive apparatus have constructed buildings in blatant violation of municipal and town planning laws, master plans, zonal development plans and even sanctioned building plans. In most cases, municipal authorities and regulatory bodies turn a blind eye to illegal constructions.” 

Pointing to a nexus, the court had said, “Such actions (support from municipal authorities and state governments) have done irreparable harm to the concept of planned development of cities. It is high time the state takes serious view of the menace of illegal and unauthorized constructions and stop offering support to affluent builders and others, else even the rural areas of the country will soon witness similar chaotic condition…” 

Sakrama saga 

* 2007: JD(S)-BJP govt conceives scheme 

* Matter goes to court, PIL seeks HC intervention 

* 2008-2009: Yeddyurappa govt frames rules, introduces them in the assembly, but governor refuses to give consent 

* 2013: Scheme gets governor’s approval in August-September 

* Dec 2013: State passes Karnataka Towns and Country Planning Act in Belgaum, drafts rules for Sakrama scheme again 

* Feb 2014: Final notification to be published, but with poll dates being announced, process is put off 

* About a fortnight ago, government decides to publish the final notification, the modalities of which are being worked out 

‘HC nod awaited’ 

“The legal department will look into the matter. What we are doing right now is issuing the final notification. The matter is before the high court and we cannot implement the scheme until we get a nod from the court.”