The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over rampant unauthorised constructions across the country and asked the Centre as to how long these will continue.
Referring to a fire incident in Crystal Tower in Parel that claimed four lives and earlier incidents of fire in Kamala Mills in Mumbai and Bawana factory in Delhi, a bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta asked: "Has the government of India any policy that unauthorised constructions will not be tolerated? This can't be tolerated."
The bench wondered how such high rises were allowed without clearances from authorities concerned.
The apex court said that one of the reasons for unauthorised constructions was that people thought that such buildings would not be demolished and will be regularised.
"People are dying in these unauthorised constructions. You see what happened in Mumbai's Parel where a fire broke out in a high-rise building two days back. We have read somewhere that the building did not have an occupancy certificate. How are these high-rise buildings being allowed to be built?" the bench said.
"We are dealing with the issue of Delhi, but what is happening in the rest of the country is equally worrying. Shall we start taking the matter city-wise -- Mumbai, Calcutta or Chennai?" the bench asked, adding: "It is a sorry state of affairs if we look at other parts of the country."
Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that these high rises were being built due to "large-scale corruption in Town Planning departments and civic bodies."
The bench then asked the ASG: "What is the government doing if there is so much corruption. Tell us, what steps are being taken by it? If we take certain action, you say it is judicial activism."
The top court also said that there are so many residential buildings being used for commercial purposes, while observing how mixed use of buildings increases the risk for residents, adding: "There are about 51,000 homes used for commercial purposes in Delhi."
"Everything is collapsing... You make laws and then you make a mockery of these laws," observed the bench.
The court was hearing a plea relating to the issue of validity of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006, and subsequent legislations which protect unauthorised constructions from sealing.