HC asks Centre to clarify whether restrictions on construction in Lutyens extend to non-bungalow plots

The bench, which will now hear the matter on October 5, has passed the order in a batch of petitions filed by plot owners and residents of the areas.

Granting the Centre four more weeks to take a decision on a Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) recommendation to exclude certain areas from Lutyens’ Delhi, the Delhi High Court has asked it to also clarify whether the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LZB) Boundary and Development Guidelines extend restrictions even on non-governmental plots where no bunglows exist.

The court last month had directed DUAC to forward the LZB Boundary and Development Guidelines, which were amended in 2019, to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for a decision and also ordered the ministry to particularly decide on the Commission’s recommendation to exclude certain areas — Jor Bagh, Golf Links, Sunder Nagar, Bengali Market, Ashoka Road, Mandir Marg, Panchsheel Marg, Sardar Patel Marg and Chanakyapuri — from the LZB, within three weeks.

Granting more time to the Centre for the purpose, Justice Rekha Palli in an order has now asked the ministry to also clarify the effect of a letter issued by its director in December 1997, according to which the development of non-government plots on the land where no bungalows exist or existed before in the immediate past “was to be regulated under the Building Control Norms applicable to such plots lying outside the LBZ, in accordance with Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2001”.

Referring to 1988 guidelines which were mentioned in the 1997 letter, the court asked the Centre to clarify whether any rider can be placed on floor area ratio (FAR) in respect of buildings constructed or reconstructed in these areas. “It prima facie appears that the said guidelines only sought to impose a restriction on the plinth area of the existing bungalows, as also on the height of the bungalow — which it directed would not exceed the existing height or the height of the bungalow which is the lowest of those in the adjoining area,” it said in the order.

The court said, “This clarification is necessary in view of the petitioner’s stand that they cannot be restrained from carrying out construction in accordance with the guidelines issued on 08.02.1988, in case they retain the plinth area and height of the building.”

The bench, which will now hear the matter on October 5, has passed the order in a batch of petitions filed by plot owners and residents of the areas who want to reconstruct or make alterations to the existing buildings.

The court had earlier been told by the petitioners that the Commission had made the recommendations in 2016 but the same were returned by the ministry with a direction to make certain corrections. The Commission in August 2019 prepared its fresh recommendations. However, the petitioners last month told the court that the fresh recommendations were never sent to the ministry.

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