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Akrama – Sakrama verdict in High Court raises more questions than it answers

akskCity Kemp News
On 13th December, a division bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising Chief Justice Subro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice Budhihal dismissed the Public Interest Litigation filed by several organizations challenging the Akrama – Sakrama scheme notified by the Government of Karnataka to legalize violations in Urban areas.
The violations sought to be regularized fall under three broad categories – zoning violations, FAR violations and violations of setback. While the Bangalore Development Authority is tasked with the duty of regularizing zoning violations, BBMP will have to take up regularization of FAR and setback. In cases where there are zoning violations coupled with FAR and setback violations, the Statute states that the zoning violations must be regularized first before any application for FAR and setback violations are taken up.
Two important caveats are that absence of parking slots within the premises for commercial establishments and illegal usage of basements will render regularization impossible. The Bangalore Building Bye Laws 2003 stipulate that one on-site car park be provided for every 50 sq metre of commercial usage. Most establishments in Bangalore converted illegally to commercial will not be able to show this quantum of car parking.
Further, there is the stipulation in the Statute which states that the land use regularization should be done “in so far as Section 14 A procedures” . In spite of asking the bench to stipulate and clarify what exactly the Government means by this particular phrase, the bench has not clarified on the same.
Section 14A of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act stipulates the procedure for change of land use and this requires a lengthy procedure including newspaper advertisements and hearing objections.
There is an explicit Supreme Court judgement that multiple schemes of regularization are not allowed and this scheme has to be a one-time scheme. This has been laid down in the current High Court verdict as well. However with the Government seeming to have decided to “extend” the scheme, citizens groups are planning to challenge any such extension arguing that an extension will result in the scheme acquiring the character of a non one-time scheme which will run contrary to the orders of the Supreme Court of India in similar cases.
One thing is for certain is that the last word on this subject is yet to be written. It is very likely that the Supreme Court will weigh in on this matter in due course. Citizens demands include that Government publish the list of applicants under this scheme in the public domain so that all can know who exactly are the violators and what is the extent of violation. Citizens have also demanded that independent experts be part of the survey group that goes to inspect and verify the declarations made.

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