Secretariat demolition: SC dismisses plea against Telangana HC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a special leave petition filed by senior Congress Leader T. Jeevan Reddy challenging the June 29 judgment of Telangana High Court dismissing a plea filed against the decision of the State of Telangana to demolish the existing buildings of the Secretariat and to construct a new building.

A Bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah heard the matter and stated that the Telangana High Court had already rendered a decision on the merits of the plea and thus, the Supreme Court would not be entertaining the issue as it was not for them to decide.

Justice Bhushan observed that even though it was a large area, there existed several deficiencies in the buildings. The decision of demolishing the Secretariat was, therefore, not open to judicial review, he added.

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Accordingly, the Supreme Court refused to entertain the matter and dismissed the same.

Filed by Advocate-on-Record A. Radharishnan, the plea stated that the Government of the State of Telangana had made a decision to demolish the existing buildings of the Secretariat and construct a new building. However, as contended in the plea, the buildings were constructed between the years 1966 and 2012. Therefore, they had a life span of another 70 years.
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“The two Blocks which are constructed in the year 2012 are State of the Art Buildings. All these buildings have a life span of another 70 years. All other decisions and recommendations are only pursuant to the decision of the Cabinet dated 21.10.2016 and therefore, the decision to demolish the existing buildings is violative of procedure established by Law and the Wednesbury Principles.”

It was submitted that the Government had not responded to the Representation given by the Petitioner in 2016. Further, the High Court dismissed the plea filed before it against the proposed demolition of the existing buildings of the Secretariat, despite the construction of the buildings leading to a wastage of public money.

“The High Court was also wrong in dismissing the WP without considering whether demolition of the buildings comprising of nearly 10 lakh sq. ft. situated in 25.05 acres is a public property. It is further submitted that to have a new Secretariat building and amenities is going to cost more than 1000 Crores, which is wastage of public money.”

This, the plea submitted, raised the question of whether the High Court had taken cognizance of the fact that despite the government being unable to pay the salaries of its employees and pensioners, it was indulging in such extravagant projects in the name of “infrastructure development”.

The High Court had further failed to note that the Green Building Regulations and the National Building Code did not apply to existing buildings, and were only applicable to buildings that were being constructed after its promulgation. Therefore, the decision to redesign and reconstruct the Secretariat had been done without any material to justify the same, thereby exposing the decisional arbitrariness.

In light of the above grounds, the Petitioner had approached the Apex Court for directions to set aside the decision of the Telangana High Court.

However, the Supreme Court refused to do the same, with the Bench noting that the High Court had already examined the issue.

On June 29, a division bench of the HC comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy had dismissed a bunch of PILs challenging the decision to build a new secretariat after demolishing the existing one.

Later, the HC stayed the demolition works on June 10, acting on a different set of petitions.

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