Bangalore: The High Court of Karnataka convened a special sitting last Saturday (Nov 1) to hear a case that pertained to demolition of a three-storey building in Vyalikaval House Building Co-operative Society (VHBCS) layout at Nagawara.
Justice A S Bopanna ordered a stay on the demolition drive that was to be undertaken by a man named Himalayan Basha who had bought an acre and 17 guntas of land on which the building had come up.
A day before, Basha had set out to demolish the building by evicting six families living in the apartment complex built on that land. He was armed with a city civil court order and a posse of police personnel.
But the shocked apartment dwellers protested the drive, contending that they had not been served any legal notice. They had their way and the demolition was stopped overnight.
The next day, at 4.30 pm, they rushed to the residence of Chief Justice of the High Court, D H Waghela, seeking immediate relief.
Justice Waghela convened a special sitting of the court to listen to the complaint. The sitting assembled at 7.30 pm. In an interim order, Justice Bopanna stayed the demolition for four weeks. He observed: “The instant petition was moved for consideration on obtaining the order of the Honourable Chief Justice indicating grave urgency…”
The judge said that the stay was being granted on the grounds that the apartment owners had complained that their rights would be violated if the building was demolished immediately.
They claimed that the whole problem arose because of “wrong” interpretation of the Supreme Court judgments about the VHBCS land acquisition.
The controversy began in 2012 when questions arose about the legality of the VHBCS’s land acquisition.
Ever since the layout was formed, various benches of the High Court have set aside 52 acres and 17 guntas of land acquired for the purpose. But on the VHBCS’s request, the State government tried to require 52 acres of land later but backed off following complaints from landlords.
The Society then moved the High Court against the government’s withdrawal of land acquisition. The court ordered the government to go ahead with the land acquisition and complete the process in three months. The landlords, however, challenged the HC order in the Supreme Court which ordered that the land be returned to the landlords and a compliance report filed in three months.
Meantime, the Revenue Department ordered a change in the Record of Rights, Tenancy and Crops (RTC) for 165 acres acquired previously for the VHBCS. But the High Court quashed this order on the grounds that the VHBCS was yet to file a compliance report in the Supreme Court.
In 2014, the Supreme Court accepted the compliance report filed by the Society and clarified that its judgement applied to 52 acres and 17 guntas of land only and not the entire expanse of the layout. The order was given on April 24, 2014, by the present Chief Justice of India, H L Dattu.
Residents claim that Basha, while seeking an eviction order from the city civil court, had submitted the 2012 order of the top court but ignored the clarification issued in 2014.
The survey number 34/2, which Basha had bought, was never denotified by the revenue department to be returned to the landowners.
The residents also contend that Basha never made them a party to the eviction case which was filed against the Society.