Upholding the Punjab government's notification regarding regularisation of marriage palaces and resorts, the Punjab and Haryana high court dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by owners of marriage palaces and granted them a month's time to seek regularisation as per the policy.
The judgment came from the division bench comprising justices Surya Kant and Surinder Gupta on Friday while pronouncing the order on a bunch of petitions questioning the validity of the state government's notification dated November 16, 2012, as modified by a subsequent notification on January 7, 2013.
The state government had notified policy guidelines and building norms for regularisation of existing marriage palaces and setting up of new marriage palaces in the state after clearance from the council of ministers.
It was only after the high court directions on a public interest litigation filed in 2011 that a draft policy was framed by the state government for regulating the mushrooming growth of marriage palaces; thereafter, the latter were given the option of seeking regularisation of their constructions. Though many marriage palaces applied for regularisation, some chose to challenge the state government policy in the high court.
Addressing one of the main issues raised by the petitioner marriage palaces about the application of the policy with retrospective effect, the court said such an effect had been given to the policy under the command of the directions issued by the high court in exercise of the public interest litigation jurisdiction. "The vital issues of paramount public importance, namely public safety, congestion on roads and parking chaos, were created by existing marriage palaces and not by those to be constructed in future," the court clarified.
The court added that the contention that imposition of change of land use/external development charges or fee etc. amounted to unreasonable restriction on the business activities of petitioners, had no legal basis or factual backdrop.
Settling another issue raised by the petitioners, the court said provisions of the relevant Act of 1995 "explicitly enables prescription of different rates of development charges for different parts of the planning area."
It is now well settled in a catena of decisions that the courts should not generally interfere with policy decisions so long as it does not infringe upon the fundamental rights or transgress statutory powers, the court said.