HC restrains Lakshadweep admin from demolishing houses

Two residents in Kavaratti had challenged the notices issued to them for building houses in the no-development zone

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday restrained the Lakshadweep Administration from taking coercive steps against two residents in Kavaratti island on the basis of notices directing them to demolish their houses which they had allegedly constructed on the no-development zone.

Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan passed the order on a writ petition filed by Ubaidullakunhiyammakkada and another person from the Kavaratti island challenging the notices.

According to them, the Block Development Officer had issued them notices asking them to remove their houses on the ground that the structures were within 20 metres from the High Tide line which had been declared as a no-development zone.

When the petition came up for hearing, the court asked the petitioner to appear before the authorities and reply to the notices. The court made it clear that any coercive steps could be taken against them only with the permission of the court.

The petitioners contended that as per the Integrated Island Management Plan notified by the Lakshadweep Science and Technology Department in 2015, no development was permitted in a radius of 20 metres from the High Tideline.

However, the plan did not empower any authority to demolish the houses which was already constructed decades ago.

The notices had also said that that the buildings were constructed without obtaining any diversion certificates as contemplated under section 20 (1) of the Laccadive Minicoy and Amini Islands Land Revenue And Tenancy Regulation, 1965.

The issue of notices for violating the provisions of Laccadive Minicoy and Amini Islands Land Revenue And Tenancy Regulation, 1965 was not maintainable as the constructions were completed prior to the commencement of the regulation.

Besides, the Block Development Officers had no authority to issue the notices. In fact, only the revenue officers could issue such notice under the Regulation.

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