SC asks Chandigarh admn, MHA to meet and iron out pending policy issues - Hindustan Times
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SC asks Chandigarh admn, MHA to meet and iron out pending policy issues

By, Chandigarh
Jul 21, 2022 04:05 AM IST

Despite several reminders, approval for conversion of commercial and industrial properties from leasehold to freehold, and rationalisation of misuse and building violation charges remain pending with MHA, Chandigarh admn told SC

Taking a serious note of the UT administration passing the buck to the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) on long-pending policy matters, the Supreme Court has asked the UT adviser to meet the MHA joint secretary and iron out these issues within a month.

In the action-taken report, the Chandigarh administration contended that multiple property related matters were pending with MHA. (iStock)
In the action-taken report, the Chandigarh administration contended that multiple property related matters were pending with MHA. (iStock)

If they fail to resolve these issues, both have been directed to appear before the apex court on the next date of hearing in the “Estate Office versus Charanjit Kaur” case on August 29.

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The bench of justice Hemant Gupta and Vikram Nath observed, “As per the status report filed, we find that the Chandigarh administration is passing on the burden of certain issues on the MHA. Keeping in view the issues involved, we direct adviser to the Chandigarh administration to meet Ashutosh Agnihotri, joint secretary, MHA, and iron out the issues which can be decided by mutual discussion.”

The apex court’s directions came after the UT submitted its latest action-taken report (ATR) on the recommendations made by the 11-member committee appointed on the court’s directions. The committee was constituted to improve the working of the estate officer and ease property-related woes of Chandigarh residents.

In the ATR, the administration contended that multiple property related matters were pending with MHA. These include conversion of commercial and industrial properties from leasehold to freehold, and rationalisation of misuse and building violation charges.

The administration submitted that in the property conversion issue, it had already sent four reminders to MHA, but a decision was still pending.

Nearly 70% commercial and industrial plots in the city are leasehold, allowing occupation for a limited period, mostly 99 years, with government agencies holding the ownership rights.

Apart from a web of legal complications, the allottees struggle with their sale and purchase, and raising a mortgage when needed, troubles normally not associated with freehold properties where the allottee is the real owner.

In September last year, the apex court had directed the administration to constitute a committee to review and streamline the processes of sanction of mutation, grant of occupancy certificate, no-objection certificate and other citizen-centric requirements, including calculation of unearned profit under the 1973 or 2007 rules.

The court had ordered that the committee will submit its report to the Chandigarh administrator and the administration.

In compliance of the order, the UT administrator had constituted the committee on October 5, 2021. The committee had made the first set of recommendations in February and submitted the second set of suggestions recently in July. Several amendments in property-related matters have been made since the first set of recommendations, and UT has submitted four ATRs in March, April, May and July before SC, while putting the onus on the Centre for delay in resolving some key issues.

Original SC order too pulled up admn

Castigating the working of the UT administration, SC, in its September 2021 order, had stated, “The officers are unable to take decisions which are citizen friendly. Even no attempt is made to remove the bottlenecks in the working of the Estate Office.”

The difficulty in the administration is that the senior officers in the Chandigarh administration were on deputation from the states of either Punjab or Haryana, the court had observed, adding that the officers revert to their parent cadre after completion of deputation period of approximately three years. However, the officials continue to work at the Estate Office.

Four reminders but no response

Putting the onus on the Centre for delay in resolution of key property matters, the UT informed the apex court that in the conversion of commercial and industrial properties issue, it had sent four reminders to MHA, but a decision was still pending. The latest reminder was sent earlier this month.

It further stated it first sent the proposal in April 2021 to the MHA for conversion of industrial and commercial properties on the pattern of the residential policy of 1996. It then sent a reminder in August 2021, another in September 2021 and the third reminder was in October 2021.

Nearly 70% commercial and industrial plots in the city are leasehold, allowing occupation for a limited period, mostly 99 years, with government agencies holding the ownership rights.

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