Asserting that the conduct of the administrative authorities involved in connection with the demolition of Hotel Silver Sands at Colva as well as that of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) is under cloud of suspicion as their conduct is not above board, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Goa Chief Secretary to look into the conduct of the concerned GCZMA officers and the administrative officers who were involved in carrying out the demolition order dated May 12, 2018.
The NGT Pune bench has further directed the Chief Secretary to hold an enquiry to find out who is at fault in dealing with the execution of the hotel demolition order and take appropriate penal action both administrative as well as Judicial and submit a report to the Tribunal within a period of three months from now in the Registry.
While allowing an application filed by the Goa Civic and Consumer Forum represented by Secretary Judith Almeida, the NGT has directed the GCZMA to ensure the compliance of demolition order dated 05.12.2018 in respect of the property in question within a period of two months positively, failing which the Applicant would be at liberty to approach the Tribunal with a Misc. Application, indicating non-compliance, where-on the penal order may have to be passed by the Tribunal.
“It is apparent that the Respondent No. 3/ Project Proponent whose property was to be demolished, continued to enjoy the benefits of the said property from the date of judgement of the Supreme Court dated 18.01.2019 (date of judgement) when the demolition of order was confirmed by the Supreme Court till 23.10.2021 and even after that till date, demolition appears to have not been done,” the NGT stated.
The order stated: “The conduct of the administrative authorities involved in this, as well as that of the GCZMA, is under cloud of suspicion as their conduct is not above board. It is very much clear that once the matter was settled by the Apex Court on 18.01.2019 when it dismissed the appeal, no further proceedings, in the garb of review, should have been allowed to go ahead and it should have been rejected outright as the sole power of entertaining any review vested with the Supreme Court,” the order stated.
Taking serious cognizance of the matter, the NGT has further directed, “Let a copy of this order be communicated to the Chief Secretary, State of Goa for compliance”.
After hearing the arguments, the Tribunal said it is of the well-considered opinion that the impugned order dated 05.12.2018 passed by the Respondent No. 2/GCZMA in respect of demolition of the illegal structures in Survey Nos. 24/2, 24/3, 24/11 and 24/12 in Colva Village, Salcete, stood confirmed up to the level of Supreme Court in the initial ground of litigation as the Supreme Court had dismissed the appeal vide order dated 18.01.2019 which was preferred by the Respondent No. 3 against the order of this Tribunal passed on 03.01.2019, upholding the demolition order passed by the GCZMA.
“After the final order by the Supreme Court, in our opinion, there was no question of any review application to be entertained by any of the forums except the Supreme Court from where the said demolition had been upheld. But record reveals that by taking recourse to legal proceedings on the pretext of the ground of procedural review available to the GCZMA, the said authority entertained the application for review and kept the matter pending for long till ultimately it dismissed the said review vide order dated 23.10.2021,” the NGT stated.
While the Supreme Court had cleared all decks for the demolition of the Silver Sands hotel earlier this year, the demolition could not take place till June on grounds the authorities need a specialised agency to carry out the drive. On June 8, however, the owners set in motion the demolition process by roping in a contractor after realisation dawned that they may have to cough up lakhs of rupees to the authorities towards the demolition operation.