High-rises near Surat airport: Residents’ petitions ‘not maintainable’, says HC


The Gujarat High Court Monday observed that the petitions moved by residents against the demolition orders of high-rises in the vicinity of the Surat airport were “prima facie not maintainable”.

During the hearing of a 2019 public interest litigation objecting to the buildings constructed in violation of the airport norms, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice AJ Shastri noted, “Prima facie, we are of the view that the special civil applications (by the building residents) are not maintainable in view of there being efficacious and alternative remedies available under (the) law.”

Appearing on behalf of the residents, Senior counsel Mihir Thakore requested the bench not to make any observation on the non-maintainability of the petitions. However, CJ Kumar remarked, “One aircraft incident, touchwood…we are not experts, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the expert… Show from their (DGCA) affidavit that these buildings are not dangerous. We will consider (it).”

However, listing the matter for further hearing on January 11, the bench said it would allow the residents an opportunity of hearing along with the PIL.

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The PIL filed by Vishwas Bhamburkar had highlighted that the illegal constructions permitted around the Surat airport were in violation of norms and sought the evacuation and demolition of such structures.

In August 2021, aviation regulator DGCA informed the court that 27 orders were passed for the demolition of constructions beyond permissible limits. Apart from these 27 buildings, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had also informed the court that two more builders were notified of their violations in August 2021. The demolition orders were passed under Rule 6 of The Aircraft (Demolition of obstructions caused by Buildings and Trees etc.) Rules, 1994, “keeping in mind the safety of the passengers who travel by air.”

With the rules also providing the remedy for an appeal against such demolition orders under Rule 6A, an HC division bench had, on August 17, 2021, curtailed the period of filing of appeals by the builders to two weeks instead of the 60 days otherwise provisioned, in light of the circumstances of the case.

Subsequently, the affected residents moved the HC challenging the demolition order and also sought to be made parties to the PIL.


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