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FS letter to EO for keeping rules in abeyance not acceptable: SC

            Chandigarh: The Supreme Court has raised questions on the UT administration’s communication on behalf of UT finance secretary to the UT estate officer for keeping Chandigarh conversion of residential leasehold land tenure into freehold land tenure, Rule 1996, in abeyance. The Supreme Court made these observations while providing relief to city residents who were seeking conversion of leasehold residential sites into freehold.
A division bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice AS Bopanna in its order dated September 7, said, “On the date when the letter was issued by the UT administration on May 10, 2013, the statutory 1996 rules were in force. Such rules were kept in abeyance on the basis of communication on behalf of the finance secretary to the estate officer. Such communication cannot be countenanced. The statutory rules cannot be put to hold because the issue of revision of rates of conversion was under consideration of the UT administration. Even after the said letter the rates were fixed only in 2017. In the face of valid statutory rules, an administrative decision cannot be sustained”.
The order further stated, “The fact remains that in terms of 1996 Rules, an amount of Rs 1,710 per sq mt. was fixed as conversion charges. The land rates were to be fixed by the administration from time to time under rule 5 of 1996 rules. In annexure-A, the land rate for conversion was fixed at Rs.1710/- per sq mt. The same was to be applied for a period of one year. But as admitted at the Bar, the rates were revised only in 2017. The action of the appellant (UT administration) in rejecting the request for conversion is thus arbitrary and discriminatory. The request could not be kept pending when the statutory rules were in force. The executive authority could not by an administrative order keep the matter pending, when there was no other reason not to accept the conversion except impending increase in the conversion charges”.

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