The Division bench of The Supreme Court comprising Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha in the matter of Association of Vasanth Apartments’ Owners v. V. Gopinath and Others2 vide Order dated 13.02.2023 has upheld Rule 19 of the Development Control Rules as applicable in the Chennai Metropolitan Area. As per the rule stated above, developers must allocate 10% area of any Development Plan having more than 10,000 square meters for the purpose of communal and recreational use.
Additionally, the developer must also transfer such reserved space in favour of the local authority, free of cost, through a registered gift deed allowing the local authority, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority in the present matter, to maintain the open space area.
It was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that Rule 19 was not discriminatory and hence there was no violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The pleas of violation of Right to Property under Article 300A were also dismissed by the Court. Furthermore, the arguments stating that compulsory reservation in this manner would amount to acquisition of land by the state were also found to have no merit by the Court.
The Appellants, being the developers and builders herein contested that the provision in question causes them personal injury and that the allocation of land would result in losses to them. To which, the Court responded stating that reservation of a mere 10% area for recreational and communal uses would not amount to personal injury and therefore no compensation can be sought from the state in this regard. The Court added that the rule acts in benefit of the masses and the end users.
The Appellants further raised grievances against the execution of a gift deed in the favour of the State. The Court stated that regardless of the gift deed, the area reserved under Rule 19 will not be under use by the Developers and they would remain only trustees with regard to it. Execution of a gift deed in order to comply with statutory rules would not be considered a violation of constitutional provisions and therefore the argument was found to have no merit.
The Open Space Requirement, being an inviolable requirement, the additional requirement of execution of a gift deed thus should not be seen as deprivation, and must only be seen as a preventive measure to avoid misuse of land. The Court assured the developers that execution of the Gift Deed would not imply the state obtaining absolute ownership and would merely mean that now the State would be the trustee instead of the developers themselves.
The Court concluded by stating that the open space reserved must not be diverted to be used as anything else and must strictly be used for the sole purposes it has been allocated for, them being recreational and communal in the matter at hand.