PMO to have final say on Lutyen’s Zone: apex court

August 28th, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) The tree-lined spacious Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ) in the heart of the national capital will get to retain its picturesque character. The Supreme Court Thursday endorsed the prime minister’s exclusive power to enforce low-rise building norms in the high-security zone where ministers and senior politicians have their homes.The apex court said the prime minister could relax the low-rise building norm in rare and exceptional cases.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan also censured the Delhi High Court for questioning the prime minister’s power on enforcing the building norms in the LBZ and not granting permission to a trading firm to construct a two-and-half storey building in the area.

The apex court bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal, set aside the high court ruling that granted permission to Tanvi Trading and Credit Pvt Ltd to build a two-and-half storey building in the LBZ, thereby unsettling the low-rise building norms there.

Setting aside the high court ruling, the Supreme Court said: “This court is of the firm opinion that it was wrong of the Delhi High Court to make any adverse comments regarding the powers of the Prime Minister’s Office to relax the LBZ guidelines for low-rise building in the area.”

The ruling came on a lawsuit by the New Delhi Municipal Council, challenging a May 2004 ruling of the Delhi High Court.

The high court asked the municipal council to allow Tanvi Trading to build a two-and-half storey tall building with 15 dwelling units on Amrita Shergill Marg off Prithviraja Road, which falls in the LBZ area.

The high court gave its ruling on a plea by the firm and challenged the NDMC decision to reject the plans to raise a multi-storey building.

The NDMC rejected the building plan, saying it would breach the norms in the LBZ, framed in 1988 and subsequently updated in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

As per the LBZ guidelines, the height of a building cannot exceed the height of the lowest building in the adjoining area.

When the matter reached the Delhi High Court, the union Urban Development Ministry told the court that the low-rise building norm was framed in 1988 on the initiative of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The ministry told the high court that the PMO reserved the right to relax the building norms in exceptional circumstances and had rejected the Tanvi Trading’s plea to raise a tall building.

But the high court dismissed the arguments and asked the NDMC to allow the firm to go ahead.

The apex court bench, however, reversed the high court ruling.

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