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A Victim's account

My House Demolished

Sanjiv Bhatt

Aug 05, 2018

Many of you must be wondering about the ongoing demolition of the "illegal" portion of my house. Here is a little timeline that will put things into perspective:
01. We purchased this three storied tenement house in the April 1997. The taxable Carpet Area of the house as per the records of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has been 371.50 square meters since the year 1980.

02. The flooring of the Servant’s Quarter and the Toilet portion on the South-West corner of the house had marginally settled and structurally weakened during the earthquake of 2001.

03. The existing floor area of the house was verified by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, 11th April 2006 as a part of their five yearly verification drive for the purposes of property tax calculation and assessment. The Total Carpet Area of the Tenement was measured, verified and certified by them to be 371.5 m2 (Ground Floor: 181.5 m2 First Floor: 110 m2 Second Floor: 80 m2)

04. Mrs. Zakia Jafri, the widiow of slain Member of Parliament Ehsaan Jafri, filed a complaint before the Director General of Police, Gujarat on 6th August 2006 alleging a larger conspiracy in the Gujarat Carnage of 2002. I was cited as a very important witness as I was of the Deputy Commissioner Intelligence in-charge Internal Security of the State.

05. I was extensively examined by the Raghavan led SIT in 2009 and 2010. My testimonies before the SIT were contemporaneously leaked to the Government of Gujarat.

06. The Government of Gujarat immediately resorted to a series of coercive measure.

07. The floor plans of the existing house were once again verified by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in October/November 2010, as a part of their periodic verification drive for the purposes of property tax calculation and assessment. A copy of the Building Floor Plan showing the floor-wise details of the said tenement was handed over to the Inspecting Officials of AMC who had physically measured and verified the floor areas of all the floors of the existing house in October/November 2010. After due physical measurements and verification, the Building Floor Plan of the said dwelling house was contemporaneously Verified and Received by the Inspecting Official from the Tax-Valuation Department of AMC.

08. In view of the increased threat to the security of our family, we sought to increase the height of certain portions of the compound wall adjacent to the Servant’s Toilet in the South-West corner portion of the building in November 2010. While re-excavating the foundation of a portion of the existing compound wall referred above, for the purpose of increasing the height, the Petitioner encountered an old discarded subterranean soak-pit under the said portion of the existing house. It was quite apparent that the existence of the said subterranean soak-pit could have been a contributory factor in the marginal settlement and structural weakening of the said portion of the dwelling house during the earthquake of 2001. The discovery of the subterranean soak-pit was a potential threat to the structural strength and stability of a portion of the dwelling house.

09. A detailed onsite examination of the Building Structure was carried out by an AUDA Licensed Consulting Civil Engineer, for the purpose of strengthening and stabilizing the building in view of the discovery of the subterranean soak-pit in the South-West corner portion of the building structure of the dwelling house tenement.
The AUDA Licensed Consulting Civil Engineer Nrupesh Shah, opined as under:
“I have examined the Tenement building situated at No. 2, Sushil Nagar Part-2, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad 380052, on December 01, 2010.

In my professional opinion, the portion of the Tenement area marked with red hatch on the enclosed plan drawing has been weakened because of settlement of the foundation due to soak well. 
In my opinion all the three floors of the portion of the Tenement on the South-West corner of the Building require to be structurally strengthened after obtaining the detailed opinion of a qualified Structural Engineer.

The portions that require structural strengthening have been marked in red hatches on the enclosed plan drawing.”

10. Tehelka Magazine Volume 8 Issue 06 dated 12th February 2011, published a Cover Story under the heading –THE TRUTH ABOUT THE GODHRA SIT REPORT.

11. Tehelka Magazine accessed my testimonies before the SIT and did another Cover Story under the heading GUJARAT 2002 EXPLOSIVE TESTIMONY in Volume 8 Issue 07 dated 19th February 2011.

12. As opined by the AMC Licensed Chartered Engineer-cum-Structural Designer, requisite Geo-technical Investigations were also carried out by a Recognized Engineering Research Laboratory on 25.01.2011 and 26.01.2011, in order to determine the depth of the proposed RCC pile foundation for the existing Columns which were sought to be strengthened and retrofitted.

13. From February 2011 to April 2011, arrangements were made to undertake the necessary repairs/retrofitting in accordance with the opinions and recommendations rendered by the above referred professional agencies. All internal and external walls in the portion being retrofitted were required to be removed, an overhead water tank and stair-cabin were also removed for decreasing the load on the structure that was to retrofitted and strengthened. Ceilings of all the floors were required to be supported with additional mechanical props etc., for the purpose of decreasing the load on the existing Columns and Beams which were being strengthened and retrofitted by way of appropriate RCC Jacketing.

14. On 14th April 2011, I filed an Affidavit before the Supreme Court to bring on record certain disquieting aspects regarding the and inadequacies in the manner and approach that I had personally experienced during my interaction with the Raghavan led SIT that was inquiring into the Complaint of Zakia Jafri, alleging a larger conspiracy in the Gujarat Carnage of 2002. My Affidavit also brought out the role of Narendra Modi and his administration in the larger conspiracy that facilitated the Gujarat Carnage of 2002.

15. The Deputy Estate Officer, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, New West Zone, was duly informed in writing on 30th April 2011 about the construction of Compound Wall as well as Foundation Piling and Requisite Steel Reinforced Structural Strengthening of the structure of the existing house as well as the upcoming compound wall.

16. Justice Nanavati Commission summons me as a Commission Witness and directs me to remain present before the Commission on 16th May 2011. I immediately request the Director General of Police and the Director General of Intelligence to grant me access to certain contemporaneous records of 2002 in order to facilitate my deposition before the Nanavati Commission.

17. I appear before the Nanavati Commission and commence my deposition on 16th May 2011.

18. A team of Inspecting Officials from the AMC visited my house on 16th May 2011 and carry out detailed measurements of the rooms on all floors of the house. They measured and recorded the Carpet Area of the Tenement as 365.67 m2. (Ground Floor as 160.70 m2 First Floor as 110.02 m2 and Second Floor as 94.95 m2)

19. A notice under Section 267 of the BPMC Act was issued on 17th May 2011 by the AMC objecting to increasing the height of the compound wall beyond 5 feet.

20. On 5th of August 2011, during the course of the marathon sessions of my deposition/examination and cross-examination before the Nanavati Commission, I force the Special Counsel defending the Chief Minister and the State of Gujarat to admit that certain crucial of the State Control Room and the Intelligence Bureau have been destroyed.

21. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, despite having been informed by me about the ongoing retrofitting and permissible, issues a notice to me on 6th August 2011, under section 267 of the BPMC Act, stating that RCC Columns had been erected and Roof Slab Centering was done in 7.00 x 3.00 sq. meters on the rear margin area and 3.00 x 3.00 sq. meters on the side margin area, without obtaining permission from the Municipal Authorities and the said construction was directed to be stopped.

Even while receiving the said notice, it was explained to the Municipal Authorities that requisite steel-reinforced RCC structural retrofitting by way of RCC Jacketing of existing Columns and Beams was being carried out in the Servant’s Quarter and Toilet portions of the already existing structure and that the retrofitting/repairs which were underway, were squarely covered by AMC Resolution No. 84 dated 08.06.1979. An endorsement to the above effect was also made on the said Notice at the time of receiving the said Notice itself and returned to the Municipal Authorities. The exact text of the contemporaneous hand-written endorsement made by the undersigned is reproduced hereunder:- 
“No additional/unauthorized construction is underway. As informed earlier the existing structure is being structurally reinforced. The already existing and approved servant’s quarter + toilet had become dangerous and had collapsed during the excavation of the foundation for the compound wall. The said already existing and approved servant’s quarter + toilet in the margin area is being renovated and restored to its earlier existing position. No additional construction will be carried out.”

A copy of my Intimation to AMC dated 30/04/2011 as well as a copy of AMC Resolution No. 84 dated 08.06.1979 was duly handed over to the inspecting officials. Being satisfied with the said explanation, no further action was taken by the AMC.

22. The Government of Gujarat notified GRUDA Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorized Development GRUDA vide its Notification dt. 18/02/2012.

23. The National Commission for Minorities summons me along with my colleagues Mr. R B Sreekumar IPS and Mr. Rahul Sharma IPS to appear before it on 12th March 2012.

24. I commence deposition before the National Commission for Minorities and file extensive affidavits before the Commission on 25th April 2012 and 29th May 2012.

25. On the 3rd of September 2012, the National Commission for Minorities sends my affidavits to the Magisterial Court in Ahmedabad and the Nanavati Commission for further investigation and inquiry.

26. Bypassing all statutory authorities, a Special Civil Application is filed in the High Court of Gujarat by one P. C. Patel, a RSS/VHP leader who also happens to be the owner of the Party Plot situated on the rear of house, on 17th September 2012, seeking a stay on the ongoing repairs and retrofitting being conducted in the northwest portion of my house.

27. On 25th July 2012, we file our affidavit-in-reply, before the High Court of Gujarat, stating therein amongst others the following:

(i) that disputed questions of facts had been raised by the Writ Petitioner and such questions cannot be redressed before the Hon’ble Court exercising writ jurisdiction;

(ii) that no fundamental right of the Writ Petitioner is being violated since the Respondent Nos. 4 and 5 (before the High Court) were retrofitting and/or renovating a minor existing portion of their private property;

(iii) the Writ Petitioner had failed to exhaust alternative remedy and approached the High Court directly although the questions raised in the Writ Petition demand an elaborate examination of evidence to establish the right to be enforced;

(iv) that Petitioner has not approached the High Court with clean hands since the Writ Petitioner has suppressed the material fact that the plot No. 1 of Sushil Nagar Cooperative Housing Society Ltd. Part-II, which is adjacent to the plot No. 2 and shares a common compound wall with the wall of the Respondent Nos. 4 & 5 before the High Court, is also owned by the Writ Petitioner wherein a huge four storied commercial complex named – Kamdhenu Complex is operating and all the floors are rented out to commercial establishments.

(v) That the residence of the Writ Petitioner – “Kamala Kamdhenu” Plot No. 304 is situated at a distance of approximately 40 feet from the compound wall of the respondent, furthermore the said plot houses Kamala Kamdhenu Hall and the said plot is being used commercially as a Party Plot by the Writ Petitioner by the name of Kamala Kamdhenu Party Plot;

(vi) That there was grave and ever increasing threat to the life to the family members of the answering respondents, I had sought to increase the height of certain portions of the compound wall adjacent to the Servant’s Toilet in the South-West corner portion of the building structure of the dwelling house tenement, which was originally built in the year 1980 as per the official records of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and was jointly purchased by the respondent no 4 and Mrs. Vasantben Vallabhdas Shah by way of a sale deed dated 5th April, 1997. The Servant’s Quarter and Toilet portion on the South-West corner of the said dwelling house tenement had marginally settled and structurally weakened during the earthquake of 2001. While re-excavating the foundation of a portion of the existing compound wall referred above, for the purpose of increasing the height, answering respondents had encountered an old discarded subterranean soak-pit under the said portion of the existing house. It was quite apparent that the existence of the said subterranean soak-pit could have been a contributory factor in the marginal settlement and structural weakening of the said portion of the dwelling house during the earthquake of 2001. The discovery of the subterranean soak-pit was a potential threat to the structural strength and stability of a portion of the dwelling house;

(vii) That the property tax bills categorically state the area as 371.50 sq. mtrs., thus the said disputed area is included and tax is being paid on the same since the property was bought by the Respondent No. 4 (before the High Court).

28. The High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad on 13.09.2012 after hearing the parties was pleased to pass the following order:
“4. In light of the aforesaid, the following directions are issued:

I. Pending the final hearing of this petition, the respondent Nos.2 and 3 shall serve the notice under Section 260(1) of the Act dated 13.09.2012 upon respondent Nos.4 and 5, latest by 15.09.2012. On receipt of the same, respondent Nos.4 and 5 shall file reply to the said show cause notice, latest by 29.09.2012.

II. On receipt of such a reply, the respondent corporation shall intimate respondent Nos.4 and 5 about the date and time of hearing within 2 days from the receipt of the reply.

III. The respondent corporation and/or its competent authority shall hear respondent Nos.4 and 5 and pass an appropriate, reasoned order as provided under Section 260(2) of the Act, without being influenced by the fact that the present petition is admitted and these interim directions are issued.

IV. The respondent corporation shall decide the same in accordance with law and as per the building byelaws as well as General Development Regulations applicable and as prevailing. The respondent corporation shall place the final order before this Court, accordingly.

V. The respondent corporation shall get the area, which is shown in the notice under Section 260(1) of the Act, surveyed, latest by 15.09.2012 by an officer, not below the rank of Deputy Estate Officer and produce a report before this Court in this petition along with the photographs, which should bear the date on which such photographs are taken. A copy of the said report shall be provided to the parties to this petition. Mr. Joshi, ld. Senior Advocate, assures this Court that respondent No.4 and 5 shall co-operate the officer in conducting the said survey. 

5. Till the aforesaid exercise is carried out by the respondent corporation as per the directions enumerated above, respondent No.4 and 5 shall not construct further upon the disputed land and shall not put disputed structure (external) to use inany manner whatsoever till further orders. Mr. Joshi, learned Senior Advocate, does not invite any reasons for the same.

6. As observed above, the respondent corporation shall take decision as directed by this Court, strictly on its own merits, after giving opportunity of being heard to the respondent Nos.4 and 5 and after considering the reply, if any, filed by the respondent Nos.4 and 5.

7. After the order is passed by the Municipal Corporation, as directed above, the petition shall be placed before the Court for its further consideration. Parties to this petition are permitted to move the Court for its hearing before the Court.”

29. In accordance with the directions issued by the Ld. Single Judge on 13th September 2012, the Deputy Town Development Officer visited the residential tenement of the Writ Petitioner along with a team of AMC Staff at 4:30 pm and prepared a detailed site situation report.

30. A Notice under Section 260(1)(a) of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act 1949, dated 13.09.2012, bearing Notice No. NWZ/1126/002 was served upon us at 6:45 P.M. on 14th September 2012, calling upon us to Show Cause as to why the unauthorized construction on the said premises in question should not be pulled down/altered etc.

31. On 21st September 2012, we replied to the Notice No. NWZ/1126/002, AMC Case No. Cshed/2012/NWZ/1126 by way of a detailed reply bearing No. AMC/SCN/120921.

32. On 24th September 2012, I file a Writ Petition (PIL) NO. 216 of 2012 against the Nanavati Commission and the State of Gujarat for preservation and production of documents related to the Gujarat Carnage of 2002.

33. Another Notice No NWZ/1164/002, dated 24th September 2012, under Section 260(1)(a) of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act 1949, was served on us, calling upon us to Reply to the said Notice by 3:30 P.M. on 27th September 2012 and Show Cause as to why the so-called unauthorized construction on the said premises in question, as indicated in Red Colour on the building sketch appended with the said Notice, should not be pulled down/altered etc.

34. On 27th September 2012, we replied to the Notice No. NWZ/1164/002, AMC Case No. Cshed/2012/NWZ/1164 by way of a detailed reply bearing No. AMC/SCN/120927.

35. Pursuant to directions in order dated 13th September 2012 of the High Court in SCA No. 9853 of 2012, we are directed by the AMC to remain present for a personal hearing before the Deputy Estate Officer, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-New West Zone at 1200 hrs on 8th October 2012.

36. We remained present before the Deputy Estate Officer, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-New West Zone at 1200 hrs on 08.10.2012 and presented our case along with supporting documents and photographs. The presiding officer conducted the hearing in the presence of other concerned AMC officials who were also heard. After detailed hearing the presiding officer was satisfied that no illegal or unauthorised construction as mentioned in the Notice No. NWZ/1126/002 dated 13/09/2012 and Notice No NWZ/1164/002, dated 24.09.2012 was carried out or was underway at Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of MemnagarT.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N. A typewritten summary of submissions along with supporting documents and photographs was also handed over to the presiding officer by the Petitioner. A copy of summary of submissions dated 08.10.2012 handed over to the presiding officer.
The summary of submissions is reproduced hereunder:
Summary of the submissions made to the Deputy Estate Officer, Estate and Town Development Department, New West Zone, AMC, during the personal hearing at 1200 hrs. on Monday, 08/10/2012.

1. I, the undersigned, Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt, co-owner and occupier of Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N, have received a communication dated 29/09/2012, bearing Outward No. 1649 dt. 29.9.12, directing me to remain present before you at 1200 hrs. on 08/10/2012 for personal hearing.

2. It is submitted that as per the official records of the AMC, my Residential Tenement bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N was originally built in the year 1980. The said Tenement, built as per plans approved by Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority, was jointly purchased by me and Mrs. Vasantben Vallabhdas Shah, by way of a sale deed dated 5th April, 1997. 

3. As affirmed in my Affidavit before the Honourable High Court of Gujarat in Special Civil Application No. 9853 of 2012, I have not made any additional construction in the Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N.

4. It is submitted that the existing floor area and the Building Plan of Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N was physically verified by the AMC after carrying out detailed on-site measurements, in October/November 2010, as a part of their periodic verification drive for the purposes of Property Tax calculation and assessment. A copy of the Building Floor Plan showing the floor-wise details of the said tenement was handed over to the Inspecting Officials of AMC who had physically measured and verified the floor areas of all the floors of the existing Tenement in October/November 2010. After due physical measurements and verification, in accordance with the Guidelines and Instructions issued by the Assessment and Tax Valuation Department of the AMC, the Building Floor Plan of the said dwelling house was contemporaneously Verified and Received by the Inspecting Official from the Tax-Valuation Department of AMC. Notarised True-Copy of the duly-verified Building Floor Plan bearing the contemporaneous endorsement made in October/November 2010; as well as a copy of the Guidelines and Instructions issued by the Assessment and Tax Collection Department of the AMC has been submitted to you today for your personal examination.

5. It is submitted that I have been required to carry out periodic maintenance, necessary renovation and permissible repairs on the 32 year old Tenement Building from time to time. 
6. It is submitted that certain urgent repairs were required to be undertaken upon the said Tenement in December 2010. It is submitted that before undertaking the urgent repairs, requisite on-site inspections were commissioned to be carried out and professional opinions were obtained from AUDA Licensed Consulting Engineer, AMC Licensed Engineer, AMC Licensed Structural Designer and Recognized Engineering Research Laboratory during December 2010 and January 2011. Duly attested and notarised True-Copies of the above referred professional opinions as well as the Report of the Geo-Technical Investigations have been submitted to you today for your personal examination.

7. Necessary repairs and retrofitting as permissible under Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Resolution No. 84 dated 09.06.1978, based on the Town Planning Committee Resolution No. 167 dated 13.12.1977, were accordingly undertaken and certain internal as well as external walls in the portions being retrofitted and/or repaired/renovated were required to be removed and the ceilings of certain floors were required to be supported with additional mechanical props etc., for the purpose of decreasing the load on the existing Columns and Beams which were being strengthened and retrofitted by way of appropriate RCC Jacketing. One overhead RCC Water-Tank as well as the external Staircase and Stair-Cabin were also required to be removed and relocated for the purpose of decreasing the load on the portion of the house being retrofitted and strengthened. Accordingly, on 30.04.2011, an application was made to the Deputy Estate Officer, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, New West Zone, informing him regarding the said structural strengthening of the existing construction. The said Application dated 30.04.2011 bears AMC-NWZ Inward No. 499 dt.2/5/11.

8. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Tax Department Bills for the Tenement under reference clearly show the taxable Carpet Area of the house to be 371.50 sq. meters since the year 1980. It is submitted that Tenement No.1 and Tenement No.2 of Sushil Nagar Society Part-II were built and approved as Tenements and accordingly portions of both the Bungalows shared one common wall. Tenement No.1 was subsequently demolished and a four storied commercial complex by the name of Kamadhenu Complex was built thereon. Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N continues to be treated as a Tenement for the purposes of “Type of Building Factor” for calculating and assessing the Municipal Tax. The said fact is borne out by the Tax Bills and Tax Calculation Details in the Records of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Copies of the AMC Tax Bills from the year 2007 to 2012 as well as the details of the Tax Assessment/Calculation and the Floor Area details as recorded by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation have been submitted to you today for your inspection.

9. It is submitted that the records maintained by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as reflected on the AMC website and the periodic Property Tax Bills squarely and consistently match with the current actual position of the existing building. The said Tax Bills clearly show the taxable Carpet Area of the house to be 371.50 sq. meters since the year 1980 viz. much before the property was purchased by the petitioner in 1997. It is required to be noted here that as per the detailed floor plan drawings, as verified by the AMC from time to time, the Carpet Area of the existing house including the impugned construction approximates to about 371.50 sq. metres and matches with the floor-wise area details and records maintained by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. This would also establish beyond any doubt that no additional or illegal construction has taken place in the said premises.

10. It is submitted that mere comparative perusal of: 
a. The duly-verified Building Floor Plan of the dwelling house tenement as it existed and as was duly-verified after on-site physical measurements and verification, during the AMC verification drive in October/November 2010 as referred in point No. 4 above,

b. the existing Building Floor Areas as verified by the AMC immediately after the submission of my Application dated 06.08.2012 for Regularization under the Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorized Development Act-2011, and;

c. the records maintained by the Assessment and Tax Collection Department of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation with respect to Tenement No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N
will establish beyond the slightest of doubt, that even as per your own records, no additional construction or unauthorized alteration has been undertaken on the said premises after October/November 2010. 

11. It is submitted that even as per your own records, the impugned construction, classified and assessed by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as Tenement No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N has been existing in its current configuration and building layout since 1980 even as per your own records and therefore it would be absolutely unfair and unjust to now term the lawfully retrofitted/repaired portion of the same as unauthorized and/or illegal. 

12. It is submitted that an Application for Regularization under the Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorized Development Act, 2011 has already been made with respect to the above referred Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N, to the concerned authority i.e. the Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, on 06.08.2012. The said Application for Regularization of any violation of the existing Building By-laws of the AMC, if any, has been registered with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as Impact Case /Application No. GRUDA/AMC/NWZ/00933 Dt. 060812. This Application was followed by a letter addressed to the Deputy Town Development Officer dated 14.08.2012 bearing Town Development Department NWZ Inward No. 2704 of 14.08.2012.

13. It is submitted that as pointed out in great detail and substantiated by irrefutable evidence, the Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N has been existing in its current building layout and configuration prior to March 28, 2011 even as per the records maintained by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and is therefore liable to be regularised under the provisions of GRUDA 2011.

14. It is submitted that my case is squarely covered by the situation envisaged in Question No. 4 of the GRUDA FAQs posted on the website of AMC. As per the Answer provided to the aforementioned question, the impugned portion of my Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N is liable to be regularised under GRUDA-2011 as the said impugned portion was in existence and was in use prior to 28/03/2011 even as per the records maintained by the AMC as well as the Building Plan details as verified by the Inspecting Officials of the Valuation Section of the Assessment & Tax Collection Department of the AMC in October/November 2010.

15. It is pointed out that as clearly mentioned in Section 18 of the GRUDA-2011: “the provisions of GRUDA-2011 shall have over-riding effect, notwithstanding anything contained in any of the law for the time being in force, in so far as the regularisation of unauthorised development is concerned.”
In view of the aforementioned provision and the facts and circumstances of my case, as well as the photographs of the pre-existing building structure, you are requested to immediately withdraw and rescind your Show Cause Notice No. NWZ/1126/002 dated 13/09/2012 and Show Cause Notice No. NWZ/1126/002 dated 24/09/2012, in the interest of justice. It is further requested that the Competent Authority under the GRUDA-2011, is required to expeditiously consider and decide my Impact Case/Application No. GRUDA/AMC/NWZ/00933 Dt. 060812 dated 06.08.2012 for Regularization of Unauthorized Development, if any, on the said property, in accordance with the provisions of GRUDA-2011.
Yours sincerely,
Ahmedabad
October 08, 2012 (Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt)

37. Despite directions of the High Court, the Deputy Estate Officer did not pass any order after the personal hearing conducted on 8th October 2012 and period of almost 4 years lapsed.

38. The Special Civil Application 9853 of 2012 filed by P C Patel is brought on board on 30th June 2016 and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed to comply with the earlier order dated 13th September 2012.

39. We are directed by the AMC to remain present for a personal hearing before the Deputy Estate Officer, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-New West Zone at 1130 hrs on 18th July 2016.

40. We remained present before the Deputy Estate Officer, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-New West Zone at 1130 hrs on 18th July 2016 and presented our case along with supporting documents. We also objected to the new proceedings initiated by the Deputy Estate officer and requested him to extract the notings and proceedings of the earlier hearing which took place on 8th October 2012, wherein the concerned officer at that point in time was convinced that no irregularity had been committed and that the permissible repairing and retrofitting work had been carried out by the Writ Petitioner on certain portions of the old already existing building. Written submissions dated 18th July 2016 were handed over to the presiding officer. The summary of submissions is reproduced hereunder:
Summary of the submissions made to the Deputy Estate Officer, Estate and Town Development
Department, New West Zone, AMC, during the personal hearing at 1130 hrs. on Monday, 18/07/2016.
1. I, the undersigned, Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt, co-owner and occupier of Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N, have received a communication dated 14/07/2016, directing me to remain present before you at 1130 hrs. on Monday, 18/07/2016 for personal hearing with respect to Ref. Case. No. Cshed/2012/NWZ/1126 and Ref. Case. No. Cshed/2012/NWZ/1164 as well as my Impact Case/Application No. GRUDA/AMC/NWZ/060812/00933.

2. It is submitted that as per the official records of the AMC, my Residential Tenement bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N was originally built in the year 1980. The said Tenement, built as per plans approved by Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority, was jointly purchased by me and Mrs. Vasantben Vallabhdas Shah, by way of a sale deed dated 5th April, 1997. 

3. As affirmed in my Affidavit before the Honourable High Court of Gujarat in Special Civil Application No. 9853 of 2012 and subsequently reiterated in my Reply No. AMC/SCN/120921 dated September 21, 2012 and my Reply No. AMC/SCN-II/12097 dated September 27, 2012 as well as my Written Submissions dated October 08, 2012; I have not made any subsequent additional construction in the Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N.

4. It is submitted that the existing floor area and the Building Plan of Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N was physically verified by the AMC after carrying out detailed on-site measurements, in strict accordance with the Guidelines and Instructions issued by the Assessment and Tax Valuation Department of the AMC, sometime in October/November 2010, as a part of their periodic verification drive for the purposes of Property Tax calculation and assessment. A copy of the Building Floor Plan showing the floor-wise details of the said tenement was handed over to the Inspecting Officials of AMC who had physically measured and verified the floor areas of all the floors of the existing Tenement in October/November 2010. After due physical measurements and verification, in accordance with the Guidelines and Instructions issued by the Assessment and Tax Valuation Department of the AMC, the Building Floor Plan of the said dwelling house was contemporaneously “Verified and Received” by Shri. H. C. Bajaj, the Inspecting Official from the Tax-Valuation Department of AMC. Notarised True-Copy of the duly-verified Building Floor Plan bearing the contemporaneous endorsement made in October/November 2010; as well as a copy of the Guidelines and Instructions issued by the Assessment and Tax Collection Department of the AMC has been submitted to the Deputy Estate Officer, Estate and Town Development Department, New West Zone, AMC, during the earlier personal hearing at 1200 hrs. on Monday, 08/10/2012.

5. It is submitted that as mentioned in detail in my Reply No. AMC/SCN/120921 dated September 21, 2012 as well as my Reply No. AMC/SCN-II/12097 dated September 27, 2012; I have been required to carry out periodic maintenance, necessary renovation and permissible repairs on the now 36 year old Tenement Building from time to time. 

6. It is submitted that on the last occasion, certain urgent repairs were required to be undertaken upon the said Tenement in December 2010. Before undertaking the said urgent repairs, requisite on-site inspections were commissioned to be carried out and professional opinions were obtained from AUDA Licensed Consulting Engineer, AMC Licensed Engineer, AMC Licensed Structural Designer and Recognized Engineering Research Laboratory during December 2010 and January 2011. It may kindly be noted that duly attested and notarised True-Copies of the above referred professional opinions as well as the Report of the Geo-Technical Investigations and relevant photographs have been submitted to the Deputy Estate Officer, Estate and Town Development Department, New West Zone, AMC, during the earlier personal hearing at 1200 hrs. on Monday, 08/10/2012.

7. It is submitted that:
a. Perusal of the attached Opinion (including Plan Drawing) dated 01/12/2010 submitted by AUDA Licensed Consulting Civil Engineer Shri. Nrupesh Shah will make it abundantly clear that the impugned construction existed in its current state even on 01/12/2010 viz. prior to the cut-off date of March 28, 2011 prescribed for regularization under the Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorised Development Act-2011.
b. Perusal of the attached Opinion (including Plan Drawing) dated 21/12/2010 submitted by AMC Licensed Engineer Shri. Saeed A. Shaikh will make it abundantly clear that the impugned construction existed in its current state even on 21/12/2010 viz. prior to the cut-off date of March 28, 2011 prescribed for regularization under the Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorised Development Act-2011.

8. It is submitted that necessary repairs and retrofitting as permissible under Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Resolution No. 84 dated 09.06.1978, based on the Town Planning Committee Resolution No. 167 dated 13.12.1977, were accordingly undertaken and certain internal as well as external walls in the portions being retrofitted and/or repaired/renovated were required to be removed and the ceilings of certain floors were required to be supported with additional mechanical props etc., for the purpose of decreasing the load on the existing Columns and Beams which were being strengthened and retrofitted by way of appropriate RCC Jacketing. One overhead RCC Water-Tank as well as the external Staircase and Stair-Cabin were also required to be removed and relocated for the purpose of decreasing the load on the portion of the house being retrofitted and strengthened. Accordingly, on 30.04.2011, an application was made to the Deputy Estate Officer, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, New West Zone, informing him regarding the said structural strengthening of the existing construction. The said Application dated 30.04.2011 bears AMC-NWZ Inward No. 499 dt.2/5/11.

9. It is submitted that the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Tax Department Bills for the Tenement under reference clearly show the taxable Carpet Area of the house to be 371.50 sq. meters since the year 1980. It is reiterated that as clarified in my earlier replies and submissions, the impugned Tenement No.2 shared a common wall with Tenement No.1 on the South. Tenement No.1 was subsequently demolished and a four storied commercial complex was built thereon. It may kindly be noted that Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N continues to be treated as a “Tenement” and NOT as an “Independent Bungalow” for the purposes of “Type of Building Factor” for calculating and assessing the Municipal Tax as per the provisions of Rule 8A(4) of the Taxation Rules (Amendment)-2001. The said fact is borne out by the Tax Bills and Tax Calculation Details in the Records of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Copies of the AMC Tax Bills from the year 2007 to 2012 as well as the details of the Tax Assessment/Calculation and the Floor Area details as recorded by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation have been submitted to the Deputy Estate Officer, Estate and Town Development Department, New West Zone, AMC, during the earlier personal hearing at 1200 hrs. on Monday, 08/10/2012.

10. It is submitted that the records maintained by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, as reflected on the AMC website and the periodic Property Tax Bills, squarely and consistently match with the current actual position of the existing building. The said Tax Bills clearly show the taxable Carpet Area of the house to be 371.50 sq. meters since the year 1980 viz. much before the property was purchased by the undersigned in 1997. It is required to be noted here that as per the detailed floor plan drawings, as verified by the AMC from time to time, the Carpet Area of the existing house including the impugned construction approximates to about 371.50 sq. metres and matches with the floor-wise area details and records maintained by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. This would also establish beyond any doubt that no additional or illegal construction has taken place in the said premises and the building structure of Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N has been existing in its current configuration and building layout much prior to the cut-off date prescribed for regularization under the Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorised Development Act-2011.

11. It is submitted that mere comparative perusal of: 
d. The duly-verified Building Floor Plan of the dwelling house tenement as it existed and as was duly-verified after on-site physical measurements and verification, during the AMC verification drive in October/November 2010 as referred in point No. 4 above,
e. The existing Building Floor Areas as verified by the AMC immediately after the submission of my Application dated 06.08.2012 for Regularization under the Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorized Development Act-2011, and;
f. The records maintained by the Assessment and Tax Collection Department of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation with respect to Tenement No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N
will establish beyond the slightest of doubt, that even as per your own records, no additional construction or unauthorized alteration has been undertaken on the said premises after October/November 2010. 

12. It is submitted that the impugned construction, classified and assessed by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as Tenement No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N has been existing in its current configuration and building layout since 1980 even as per your own records and therefore it would be absolutely unfair and unjust to now term the lawfully retrofitted/repaired portion of the same as unauthorized and/or illegal. 

13. It is submitted that an Application for Regularization under the Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorized Development Act, 2011 has already been made with respect to the above referred Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N, to the concerned authority i.e. the Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, on 06.08.2012. The said Application for Regularization of any violation of the existing Building By-laws of the AMC, if any, has been registered with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as Impact Case /Application No. GRUDA/AMC/NWZ/00933 Dt. 060812. This Application was followed by a letter addressed to the Deputy Town Development Officer dated 14.08.2012 bearing Town Development Department NWZ Inward No. 2704 of 14.08.2012.

14. It is submitted that as pointed out in great detail and substantiated by irrefutable evidence, the Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N has been existing in its current building layout and configuration prior to March 28, 2011 even as per the records maintained by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and is therefore liable to be regularised under the provisions of GRUDA 2011.

15. It is submitted that my case is squarely covered by the situation envisaged in Question No. 4 of the GRUDA FAQs posted on the website of AMC. As per the Answer provided to the aforementioned question, the impugned portion of my Residential Tenement No.2 of Final Plot No. 306 of Memnagar T.P. Scheme No. 1, bearing AMC Property Registration No. 0615-10-0501-0001-N is liable to be regularised under GRUDA-2011 as the said impugned portion was in existence and was in use prior to 28/03/2011 even as per the records maintained by the AMC as well as the Building Plan details as verified by the Inspecting Officials of the Valuation Section of the Assessment & Tax Collection Department of the AMC in October/November 2010.

16. It is pointed out that as clearly mentioned in Section 18 of the GRUDA-2011: “the provisions of GRUDA-2011 shall have over-riding effect, notwithstanding anything contained in any of the law for the time being in force, in so far as the regularisation of unauthorised development is concerned.”
In view of the aforementioned provision, and the facts and circumstances of my case; as well as the contemporaneous plan drawings/photographs of the pre-existing building structure, you are requested to immediately withdraw and rescind your Show Cause Notice No. NWZ/1126/002 dated 13/09/2012 and Show Cause Notice No. NWZ/1126/002 dated 24/09/2012, in the interest of justice. 

You are further requested to kindly decide my Impact Case/Application No. GRUDA/AMC/NWZ/060812/00933 dated 06.08.2012 for Regularization of Unauthorized Development, in my favour and oblige.
Yours sincerely,
Ahmedabad
July 18, 2016 (Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt)

41. Notices for demolition under under Section 260(2) of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act 1949, bearing Notice No. NWZ/1126/002 and Notice No. NWZ/1164/002 were served upon us on 20th July 2016.

42. We file a further affidavit in the High Court on 28th July, pointing out in detail that the de novo orders passed by the In-charge Deputy Estate Officer in complete and inexplicable disregard of the findings of the earlier hearing proceedings held by the then Deputy Estate Officer on 08.10.2012 should not be taken on record of the case and the same require to be discarded and the respondent corporation should be directed to hold an independent and unbiased inquiry into the matter and to further place the record of the earlier hearing proceedings of 08.10.2012 conducted by the Deputy Estate Officer before the High Court.

43. On 30th July 2016, we write to the AMC requesting them to keep their Notices dated 20/07/2016 under abeyance till the disposal of SCA 9853 of 2012 as they have failed to comply with the Order dated 13/09/2012 passed by the High Court of Gujarat.

44. On 11th July 2018, after a period of two years, the without hearing us and without considering the Further Affidavit filed by us in the SCA No. 9853 of 2012; and more inexplicably, without adjudicating the issues raised and passing any order on merits, the High Court recorded the statement of the Advocate of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation that the orders passed on 20.07.2016 will be implemented within a period of one week.

45. On 12th July 2018, we file a Letters Patent Appeal No. 813 of 2018 challenging the order dated 11.07.2018 of the Single Judge.

46. On 13th July 2018, the Division Bench of the Gujarat High Court directed the Special Civil Application No. 9853 of 2012 (pending on the board of the Single Judge) to be placed along with LPA No. 813 of 2018 before the Division Bench on 18th July 2018, and directed the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation not to implement its orders till then.

47. Our LPA was heard on 18th July 2018 by the Division Bench and after hearing the matter at length reserved its judgment for 25th July 2018.
48. On 25th July 2018, the Division Bench partly allowed the Special Civil Application No. 9853 of 2012 filed by the RSS/VHP leader and directed the Corporation to implement its order without delay. The LPA No. 813 of 2018 preferred by us was disposed of in view of the order passed in SCA No. 9853 of 2012. Our request to stay the implementation of the Judgment for us to challenge it before the Supreme Court was also turned down.

49. At around 12.00pm noon on 25th July 2018, the AMC officials reached our premises to demolish the disputed portion consisting of Toilets and Kitchen area. The said demolition squad did not even have a copy of the order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court, neither the same was given to the Writ Petitioner, nor was the same uploaded on the website of the High Court.
50. We immediately approached the Supreme Court and upon mentioning at 2 pm on 25th July 2018, the Supreme Court .07.2018 was pleased to pass the following order:
“Shri Harin P. Raval, learned Senior counsel appearing for the applicant – petitioner has stated on mentioning that an order has been passed by the High Court of Gujarat today i.e. 25th July, 2018 at 11.00 a.m. rejecting the Letters Patent Appeal No. 813 of 2018 filed by the applicant-petitioner on whose behalf a mention has been made thereby opening up the possibility of demolition of the residential premises of the applicant-petitioner. Shri Raval has further submitted that even though the order 2 of the High Court is not available yet a demolition party has reached the premises in question at 12.00 noon today i.e. 25th July, 2018 and the work of demolition is about to start. It is in the aforesaid circumstances that we entertain this oral mentioning and direct that till Monday i.e. 30th July, 2018 there shall be no demolition pursuant to the order of the High Court dated 25th July, 2018 passed in Letters Patent Appeal No.813 of 2018. The applicant – petitioner may file a Special Leave Petition against the aforesaid order of the High Court in the proper form enclosing the copy of the impugned order within the aforesaid period. The Special Leave Petition as and when filed will be listed before the appropriate Bench.”

51. We filed our Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court on 27th July 2018. Our SLP (C) No. 27590 of 2018 came up for hearing on 30th July 2018 and was disposed of in limine.

52. On 30th July 2018 itself, at 10:47 am we file a Writ Petition before the Supreme Court challenging the illegal orders of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The Writ Petition (C) 906 of 2018 is likely to come up for hearing on 10th August 2018.

53. The demolition teams of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation arrive at my residence at 12:30 pm.

54. The demolition team is informed about the pendency of the Writ Petition (C) 906 of 2018 (Diary Number 27779 of 2018) filed before the Supreme Court. It is also conveyed to them in writing that, if necessary, we undertake to demolish/modify the disputed structure, ensuring the stability and integrity of the existing building, within 15 days of disposal of my Writ Petition Diary No. 27779 of 2018 pending before the Honorable Supreme Court.

55. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation immediately proceeds with the demolition despite the pendency of our Writ Petition (C) 906 of 2018 (Diary Number 27779 of 2018) and goes into an overdrive to demolish the impugned structure and cause as much collateral damage as possible to the RCC Frame Structure House before my Writ Petition (C) 906 of 2018 is even listed for hearing, so as to cause irreparable damage to my house and render my Writ Petition infructuous.

Aug 06, 2018