Cal HC asks CBI to probe construction on Kolkata's Tripura House premises

Firstly, permitting the heritage structure to be demolished and thereafter directing reconstruction is starkly contrary to conservation and preservation of the heritage structure.


PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 20-05-2022 12:41 IST | Created: 20-05-2022 12:39 IST
Cal HC asks CBI to probe construction on Kolkata's Tripura House premises
Calcutta High Court Image Credit: ANI
  • Country:
  • India

The Calcutta High Court has directed the CBI to investigate the construction of a multi-story building on the heritage Tripura House premises in south Kolkata to unearth possible irregularities.

Justice Amrita Sinha also imposed a penalty of Rs 44 crore on the owner and developer of the building, with each being asked to pay Rs 22 crore, for felling a large number of trees within the premises.

The court on Thursday directed an investigation by the CBI to unearth possible irregularities involved in obtaining approval of the building plan proposal at a Grade I heritage property.

''The investigation will be carried out under strict supervision of the Regional Head, Central Bureau of Investigation,'' Justice Sinha directed.

She directed the CBI to submit an investigation report in a sealed cover before the Registrar General of the high court by June 20.

Tripura House situated on Ballygunge Circular Road is owned by the family of the erstwhile Maharajas of the northeastern state. Pradyot Deb Barman, son of the former Maharaja, currently heads the political party TIPRA Motha which recently swept the elections to the Tripura Tribal District Autonomous Council defeating BJP's ally IPFT.

The court said on a perusal of the minutes of the meeting of the West Bengal Heritage Commission held on January 16, 2015, it appears that only its chairman Shuvaprasanna and the then-mayor, KMC Shovan Chattopadhyay were present.

The judge said that the absence of the third member of the commission, the mayor of Howrah Municipal Corporation was recorded in the minutes.

''The urgency in deciding on the said date in the absence of the third member cannot be countenanced at all,'' the court observed.

Noting that an earlier proposal for amending the gradation status of the premises from 'I' to 'IIA' stood disapproved on August 11, 2014, by the Heritage Conservation Committee of KMC, the court said that there was hardly any pressing need to approve the plan proposal with such lightning speed within only five months.

Noting that the newly constructed building has resulted in the felling of a good number of trees in the area, the court said that as many as 22 flats were constructed on the heritage building compound.

Justice Sinha directed the owner as well as the developer to deposit Rs 1 crore each to the account of each of the 22 flats constructed, which means the owner is required to pay Rs 22 crore and the developer another Rs 22 crore, totaling Rs 44 crore.

The order came on a petition filed by flat owners of a 17-storeyed building 'Shiromani' at Ballygunge Circular Road alleging that a multi-story building is proposed to be constructed on the driveway of the heritage Tripura House situated adjacent to it.

The petitioners contended that the sanction of the plan for any new construction on the premises of Tripura House violates the building rules of Kolkata Municipal Corporation as well as various laws relating to heritage buildings and other environmental norms.

It was stated by the petitioners that construction was being made by demolishing a substantial part of the heritage structure of Tripura House.

Opposing the prayer, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation claimed that it sanctioned the plan for a new building on the premises by the KMC Act, 1980.

Observing that this is a fit case where the order of demolition of the new construction ought to have been passed, Justice Sinha said, ''In the usual course, the court would have passed an order for demolition of the entire construction, but keeping in mind that the matter relates to a heritage building and the work of demolition may cause more harm than good to the heritage structure, the court exercises judicial restraint.'' Justice Amrita Sinha said that the court is more than convinced that the initial decision of the Heritage Commission to approve the plan proposal for construction was bad and accordingly any steps are taken further thereto do not have any legs to stand upon.

The court held in its order that parts of the heritage structure -- the gate, portico, fountain, driveway, and garden -- had to be demolished for allowing the construction to be made. ''Firstly, permitting the heritage structure to be demolished and thereafter directing reconstruction is starkly contrary to conservation and preservation of the heritage structure. Instead of protecting the heritage structure, the same was permitted to be brought down to facilitate the new construction,'' Justice Sinha observed.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback