City Estate Express
Edition: September, 2022

Society redevelopment law challenged in Gujarat HC

Ahmedabad

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Monday issued notice to the state government and concerned authorities in response to a petition challenging provisions of the law that regulates the redevelopment of housing societies.

Questioning the validity of the rules, Petitioner Pragnesh Gandhi, a resident of Naranpura, stated that the authorities grant permission for redevelopment only if they have the consent of 75% of members, and that too only if the building is at least 25 years old.

The relevant section is 41A of the Gujarat Ownership Flats Amendment Act, 2018, Section 18(2) of the Rules, and Section 60A of Gujarat Housing Board Act, 1961, which according to petitioner's advocates Nisarg D Shah and Ruchita Jain, is against the right to life of the public at large.

The petitioner has challenged the consent clause, which requires 75% of society members to give their nod for redevelopment. Besides, the rule that redevelopment permission can be given only to buildings that are at least 25 years old has also been termed as violation of constitutional provisions.

It was argued before the court that if a building is in ruinous condition before 25 years, the legal provisions create a hurdle in redeveloping the society, thereby posing a threat to the lives of residents. Instead of the consent clause, permission should be granted on the basis of the building's structural report.

Moreover, if 25% or more members do not give consent for redevelopment due to various reasons, majority of the residents would have to live with the risk to their lives even after the building is dilapidated and/or older than 25 years. Many a times, building conditions are worsened due to natural disasters, but these provisions restrict the process of redevelopment, and hence they are against the right to life of citizens, it was submitted.

The state government tried to defend the legislation by citing provisions of the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, which empowers municipal commissioner to seal a building if it is found in a ruinous condition.

However, the bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri posed certain questions to the state government on how the law appears to have created hurdles for demolition and redevelopment of a building, which is in bad condition much before it completes 25 years.

The HC sought reply from the state government, cooperative registrar, Ahmedabad municipal commissioner, municipal estate officer and Gujarat housing commissioner by November 21. The court clarified that pendency of this petition may not be cited by the authorities for not taking any decision.

Source: TNN, Ahmedabad