MUDA Building Bye Laws applicable to Shillong Master Plan areas: HC

Court says KHADC plea remains open to be examined in appropriate forum

SHILLONG: The High Court of Meghalaya has ruled that the MUDA Building Bye Laws will be applicable in the entire Shillong Master Plan areas after disposing of the pending PIL filed by one Tirot Sing Syiemlieh.
The order of the Division Bench of the Court issued on February 16 made absolute the earlier order of the Court delivered on December 16, 2015, which had said the jurisdiction of the MUDA Building Bye Laws will be extended beyond the municipal areas.
In fact, the PIL mover, through his counsel N. Syngkon, had challenged the public notice issued by MUDA on November 5, 2015, exempting the non-municipal areas from the purview of MUDA Building Bye Laws. Following the PIL, the Court had stayed the MUDA notification that led to MUDA withdrawing the exemption notification on January 21, 2016.
However, the Court in its February 16 order said serious and significant questions have now been raised on behalf of the KHADC essentially with the submissions that the Building Bye Laws as framed by MUDA cannot be made applicable over the autonomous district areas.
“Though these issues ought to have been raised by the KHADC in the appropriate forum and in the appropriate manner, but they have been raised only by way of a counter affidavit in this petition. In our view, when the limited issue raised herein is not surviving, the proceedings in this petition deserve to be terminated, of course, while leaving all other issues open to be examined in the appropriate forum and in the appropriate proceedings,” the Court said. Reminding that the public notice issued by MUDA on November 5, 2015, was stayed by the Court on December 16, 2015, and the same was withdrawn by MUDA, the Division Bench observed, “The said public notice had even otherwise not spelt out any reason as to why suddenly the earlier decision dated August 5, 2015, was sought to be withdrawn.”
The August 5, 2015, order had included 10 census towns and two statutory towns – Shillong Municipality and Shillong Cantonment – under the purview of MUDA Building Bye Laws.
During the hearing, on behalf of the KHADC, questions have been raised on the proposition stated by the petitioner and by MUDA. “The contention by KHADC is that the Bye Laws made under the Meghalaya Town and Country Planning Act, 1973, would not be applicable in the autonomous district areas and the Building Regulations of 2015 as made by the Executive Committee of KHADC on August 4, 2015, under the enabling power contained under the Town Committee Act, 1960, shall apply to the autonomous district area under their jurisdiction,” the Court said.
It was submitted by the KHADC that the Building Regulations of 2015 would be operating irrespective of the questions sought to be raised by the Government of Meghalaya on the publication thereof, and thus, the construction activity in the areas under the jurisdiction of the KHADC would not be covered under the Building Bye Laws made by MUDA.
“We have only taken note of, in brief, crux of the stand of the parties. Further dilatation on the issues sought to be raised by the respective parties does not appear necessary for the simple reason that the basic issue as raised in this petition could no longer be considered surviving when the questioned Public Notice dated November 5, 2015, has been withdrawn by MUDA,” the Court said.
The Court further said that in the totality of circumstances and while taking note of the decision as stated by MUDA in the press release dated January 21, 2016, “we deem it proper to make the order dated December 16, 2015, absolute to the extent it operated over the said public notice dated November 5, 2015, but while clearly providing that PIL No.9 of 2015 Tirot Sing Syiemlieh v. State of Meghalaya & Others neither in the order dated December 16, 2015, nor in any other order passed in this matter, this Court has adjudicated on the issues sought to be raised by KHADC and all such questions/issues shall remain open to be examined in the appropriate proceedings and in the appropriate forum”.
According to the Court, it goes without saying that in relation to such questions and issues, the submissions of all the parties or stakeholders, including MUDA and the State Government, will equally remain open to be examined appropriately.
As far as Shillong Cantonment Board is concerned, it was submitted on behalf of the Cantonment Board during the hearing that they were not proposing to make any submission on the subject of the petition because the issue relating to the Building Bye Laws concerning the areas within their jurisdiction had been dealt with in the other writ petition that was disposed of by a separate order while making it clear that there would not be overlapping of the building Regulations/Bye Laws within the cantonment area.
The petitioner had said Meghalaya is in Zone 5, which is the highest level of seismic activity, and the area can experience earthquakes which can be as high as 8/9 on the Richter Scale.
Shillong is on the slope of the hill and landslide is a common feature here as a major portion of the hill in Shillong are loose soil and it is necessary to control, regulate and monitor the construction of buildings for the security and safety of its people, the petitioner said.
While the Meghalaya Building Bye Laws, 2011, applies to all the Master Plan areas and scheme areas notified or to be notified from time to time within the State, the MUDA Secretary, through a notification on November 5, 2015, had withdrawn the Meghalaya Building Bye Laws, 2011, from its operation in the Shillong Master Plan without citing any reason, the petitioner said.
It may be mentioned that this notification of the MUDA Secretary was following a public meeting organised by HSPDP leader Ardent Basaiawmoit to protest against the ‘encroachment’ of MUDA.
There was an attempt on the part of the State government to frame separate building bye laws for rural areas after the MUDA Building Bye Laws were made applicable only to urban areas and census towns.
However, with the order of the High Court, the MUDA Building Bye Laws will now be applicable to all the Master Plan areas, which will practically include the whole State.

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