Residents Cannot Be Penalised For Authorities' Delay In Executing Public Amenities Works: Bombay High Court

Residents Cannot Be Penalised For Authorities' Delay In Executing Public Amenities Works: Bombay High Court

The high court has quashed the government resolutions (GRs) dated July 27, 2023 and August 22, 2023 to the extent of those works in other constituencies for which work orders have not yet been issued.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, March 23, 2024, 08:33 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

Residents cannot be penalised for authorities' delay in execution of works for public amenities, observed the Bombay High Court while quashing the government move of cancelling previously sanctioned works in Kasba Legislative Constituency, Pune and redirecting the funds to works in other constituencies.

The high court has quashed the government resolutions (GRs) dated July 27, 2023 and August 22, 2023 to the extent of those works in other constituencies for which work orders have not yet been issued.

Court's observations

"If a work is duly and appropriately sanctioned and on account of any slackness or indifferent approach of the executing agency, the work could not be started or commenced, cancellation of such work leads to depriving the residents of a particular municipality of the public amenities. For such a lackadaisical approach in commencement of the work by the executing agency, the residents of the municipalities cannot be penalised," a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor said on Friday. 

The bench has, however, clarified that work orders already issued for other constituencies as per the said GRs shall remain unaffected. It has directed the state government to execute the originally sanctioned works for Kasba in the upcoming financial year.

The Urban Development Department (UDD) had issued GR on October 4, 2022 sanctioning Rs5 crores for execution of 24 works to be executed in Kasba legislative constituency. Another GR was issued on December 20, 2022 sanctioning certain works within the territories of the Pune Municipal Corporation, including several works within Kasba constituency.

Development of Basic Amenities in Municipal Areas scheme

The GRs were issued as per the state's "Development of Basic Amenities in Municipal Areas" scheme. The scheme includes works relating to water supply and sewerage, urban roads and their adjacent drains, street lights, footpaths, social hall, community temple, etc., construction of easy toilets/urinals, general works such as lighting for public use in slums, conversion of open spaces into parks, protection of historical buildings, garden arrangement, development of cemeteries and green belts etc.

The state then issued a GR in July 2023 stating that if work orders in respect of the works sanctioned under the December 2022 GR for Kasaba have not been issued, then sanction for the same stands cancelled. Instead the GR sanctioned works for Parvati Assembly Constituency.

Similarly, another GR was issued on August 22, 2023 stating that the works not commenced as per the October 2022 GR stands cancelled. The 24 works in Kasba constituency were replaced with 50 works in Shivajinagar legislative constituency.

This was challenged in the HC by Kasba MLA Ravindra Dhangekar contending that the amendments are arbitrary, as they cancel previously sanctioned works without valid reasons, violating the principle of equality under the law.

The bench noted that the only reason provided by the state for cancelling the earlier GRs was non-commencement of the sanctioned works.

"There may be situations which may warrant cancellation of the earlier sanctioned works such as need of execution of more pressing work in any area or some irregularities or illegalities found in sanctioning the earlier works or some other overriding public interest, however, in absence of any such reason, cancellation of the works sanctioned earlier, which are to be undertaken for strengthening the public amenities, will be absolutely arbitrary," the bench said. 

The bench concluded that the state failed to establish any overwhelming public interest or any other legally sustainable ground for issuing the impugned GRs. It held that the cancellation of sanctioned works without valid reasons deprived residents of basic civic amenities, and was arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The HC has directed the state to allocate funds for Kasba as per the October 2022 GR.

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