On August 30, the Supreme Court stayed the demolition orders issued by Patna High Court of a proposed Waqf Board ‘Musafirkhana’ building constructed in the close proximity of the newly inaugurated Centenary Building of the High Court.
In its order, the High Court had said that the building was in gross violation of the provisions of The Waqf Act, 1995; Bihar Municipal Act, 2007; and Bihar Building By-Laws, 2014.
Justice UU Lalit was presiding over a three-judge bench that issued notice to the Bihar State Building Construction Corporation (BSBCC) and the State of Bihar based on the petition filed by the Bihar State Sunni Waqf Board and ordered status quo of the building.
Waqf board’s petition in Supreme Court
In its petition in the Supreme Court, Bihar Waqf Board said that the project was commenced in accordance with the Waqf Act, 1995. The Bihar government’s architect also approved the construction. The petition stated that as per bylaw no. 8(1) (A) of the Bihar Buildings Bylaws, there was no permission required from the Patna Municipal Corporation for carrying out the construction as the plans were signed by the government architect.
It read, “In the present case, the construction plans were approved by the Minority Welfare Department, Government of Bihar, and the Map and Plan of construction was approved by the senior architect of the Bihar State Building Construction Corporation, which is a government company,” the Waqf Board contended. “Therefore, the construction having been carried out by the state department and the plan having been approved by the senior architect of Bihar State Building Construction Corporation, no separate sanction was required from the Patna Municipal Corporation.”
While mentioning the High Court’s judgement where the court said that the construction had violated bylaw no. 21 that stipulates an unexceptionable and absolute embargo upon the construction of any building exceeding 10 meters in height within 200 meters radius of the boundary of important buildings, including the High Court, the Waqf board said, “The state authorities and the Waqf Board had had themselves agreed to demolish the offending portion of the building (i.e. to bring the building within the height of 10 meters)”.
High Court had ordered the demolition
In its August 3 judgement, the Patna High Court had stated that the construction was illegal as per Bihar Building Bylaws, 2014. The court said, “Such construction made without a valid sanction plan must thus be held to be an illegality rather than a mere irregularity.” The court had added that no approvals were taken from the Patna Municipal Corporation.
Three judges, Ashwani Kumar Singh, Justice Vikash Jain and Rajendra Kumar Mishra agreed on the lead judgement by Justice Jain to completely level the construction and deemed it as an illegally constructed building that violates the bylaws. Justice Chakradhari Singh directed the state government in order to set up an inquiry commission. Justice Amanullah, however, was against the demolition and deemed the construction as irregular and not illegal.
Bihar Chief Secretary and other stakeholders had agreed in a meeting to limit the height of the building to 10 meters and presented the proposal in the High Court, but it was rejected. The court said, “It is too late in the day for damage control. The respondents have collectively undermined the statutory provisions with complete abandon and lack of accountability far beyond the limits of mere negligence.”
The matter will be next heard in the Supreme Court on October 18.