HC stays construction of unauthorised building in Munnar
The Kerala High Court Wednesday stayed the construction of an unauthorised building at Munnar in Idukki district, over which a local MLA had publicly slandered a woman sub-collector for issuing a stop memo notice. The division bench, headed by the Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy, gave the interim stay on a plea filed by former Munnar panchayat president and CPI leader M Y Ousepp.
The construction has already stirred up a controversy after local MLA S Rajendran publicly slandered Devikulam Sub-collector Renu Raj on Sunday for issuing the stop memo against the construction. The government counsel also submitted that the construction continued even after a stop memo was issued by the sub-collector.
The petitioner's counsel pointed out that the construction was going on at the stretch of land given for parking site. Renu Raj, who also moved the high court against the construction, said in her affidavit that the land was within 50 yards from Muthirapuzha river and any construction within this limit would be in violation of the earlier court orders.
The sub-collector also told the high court that despite the stop memo, the construction continued and when the village officer and other officials tried to stop it, they were abused by the panchayat members and the contractor. In spite of these actions, the court order was ignored, she said, adding that MLA S Rajendran arrived at the spot and declared that No-Objection Certificate from the Revenue Department was not necessary and her action was without proper understanding of legalities.
Raj, appointed as Devikulam sub-collector in November last year, had issued the stop memo to the panchayat on February 6 against the illegal construction. The sub-collector in her letter to the Advocate General, seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the panchayat secretary, had said that the special village officer and other officials who went to inspect the unauthorised construction were insulted by the contractor and the panchayat members.
Rajendran had Sunday courted controversy after he publicly slandered the young woman IAS officer, saying she "lacked brains," after she tried to stop the unauthorised construction of a shopping complex at Munnar hill station. The MLA purportedly made disparaging comments that sub-collector Renu Raj "lacked brains" and had no powers to intervene in the construction as building rules come under the purview of panchayats.
"She doesn't have brains...she studied only to become a collector... such people will have only so much brains. Should she not study the sketch, plans? A collector cannot intervene in a panchayat construction," he had said. However, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan reiterated his support to the sub-collector and said, that the action taken by her was as per the law.
The Kerala High court had in a 2010 verdict said for any new construction in Munnar, a No-Objection certificate has to be obtained. The four-storey building, built at an estimated cost of Rs 1 crore, did not have any permission from the authorities, Raj had told PTI.
The officer has informed chief secretary Tom Jose, Revenue Principal Secretary and the district collector and as per their direction had prepared a written report.
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