Decision to build new Assembly or not solely rests with govt: HC

Justice Shameem Akther, on behalf of the bench, remarked that the competence to decide if the construction of a new Assembly was required or not was solely with the State government, and lawyers must exercise discretion while using harsh words against the government

By Author  |  Legal Correspondent  |  Published: 12th Jul 2019  12:57 am

Hyderabad: A two judge bench of the Telangana High Court comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Shameem Akther on Thursday adjourned the matter dealing with the proposed demolition of Errum Manzil Palace by the state. The petitioner’s counsel, B. Rachna Reddy, argued that the omission of Errum Manzil from the list of heritage buildings by the State government was a deliberate act, devoid of any reason. In fact, several structures from the Asaf Jahi era had been omitted from the list, which meant that the government could demolish any of the buildings whenever it wanted. She complained that the government had neither prepared any rules nor set up any committees for the purpose of recognition and conservation of heritage sites. Thus, she complained, that the government conveniently handicapped itself to allow it the freedom to wipe out the history of the city.

Pointing to the reasons given by the government for the demolition, she stated that the present Assembly building was adequate for housing the government and legislators. Justice Shameem Akther, on behalf of the bench, remarked that the competence to decide if the construction of a new Assembly was required or not was solely with the State government, and lawyers must exercise discretion while using harsh words against the government. The Chief Justice also remarked that the court could not question the legislature’s wisdom to enact laws it deemed fit, unless they violated the Constitution. The bench then proceeded to hear B. Nalin Kumar, another counsel representing the petitioners, who pointed out that in 1995, the structure at Errum Manzil had been designated a heritage building by a Government Order. In 2013, the order had been incorporated by zoning regulations, which required HUDA to seek permission from the Heritage Conservation Committee before demolishing the heritage structure. The Additional Advocate General informed the court that the 1995 regulations had been repealed by another Government Order in 2015, but Nalin Kumar argued that the 2013 regulations remained intact. The Chief Justice asked Nalin Kumar to clarify if the regulations applied to Cabinet decisions, as HUDA is an authority inferior to the Council of Ministers and adjourned the matter to Friday for further hearing.

Detention order set aside

The same bench of the High Court set aside the detention order against Muthyala Vijay Kumar, president of Telangana TV Chamber for Commerce. Muthyala Shalini, wife of the detainee, filed a habeas corpus plea questioning the detention order. Appearing for the petitioner, counsel Deepak Misra submitted that Vijay Kumar was falsely accused in four cases of cheating. He further submitted that there was a delay of more than three months in executing detention order among other grounds. He also complained that invoking preventive detention was illegal when the offences against the detainee were being dealt with the appropriate forum. Conceding the argument of the counsel, the bench stated that preventive detention cannot be invoked and allowed the plea of the petitioner.

Ruling reserved in case of shops’ shutdown at Jadcherla

The same bench reserved judgement in the matter pertaining to the shutdown of shops at Jadcherla bus stand. Summoned by court, the Depot Manager Jadcherla Bus Station, R. Venkat Ramana was present and informed the court that the shops have to be permanently shut down after the road expansion due to lack of space. Addressing the inequity which would result from this expansion, Mayur Reddy, appearing for the TSRTC, submitted that the licensing contract allows for termination, if the space around the bus station was needed for use by the TSRTC and said that contracts in general need not be equitable or just. Counsel C. Ramachandra Raju, representing the shop owners, argued that the licence could be terminated only for the Corporation’s permanent use, but here the purpose of termination is only to improve facilities, which was a short-term need. The shop-owners were willing to temporarily shut down their businesses, but there was no need to shut down shops permanently by terminating the contract unjustly, stated Raju. The Chief Justice, speaking for the bench, remarked that the court cannot lose sight of the human problems by focusing on mere legal technicalities. “The courts must be humane, not hyper-technical. A welfare state’s foremost duty is look after the financial and economic needs of the citizens”, the Chief Justice added. Admonishing the TSRTC, the Chief Justice remarked that the approach suggested by the Corporation would render thousands of poor people unemployed and reserved the order.

Health Dept told to set up panel of psychiatrists

The same bench continued to hear a preventive detention case filed by Saba Begum, challenging the detention of a juvenile, Syed Sahail, who had been accused of committing a series of thefts. On last occasion, the bench directed the State Health Department to set up a board of three senior most psychiatrists from NIMS who would determine if the juvenile had any mental disorder. Special Government Pleader Sharath Kumar informed the bench that NIMS did not have a special division for psychiatry. The bench then issued notice to the Special Chief Secretary, Health Department, to constitute the said board of psychiatrists in any hospital having psychiatry department, to look into the mental condition of the detenu, and report the same by next hearing.

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