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In the latest ruling, the Madras High Court clearly said that now the Panchayats will be the executive authority to sanction building approvals falling under their territory. But, the sanction of the same can only be given after having a compulsory consultative process with the town planning authorities.

The bench of two, including justice M Sathyanarayanan and justice N Seshasayee, passed the orders on a PIL[Public Interest Litigation]-filed by the Tamil Nadu Unaided Polytechnic Management Association and the TN Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary Schools Association. The Court emphasized on the ‘compulsory consultation’ clause, and further said that the sanction cannot be different from the set parameters that the town planning authorities have adopted until now to grant permission as per the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act.

As per the Supreme Court directive, the Madras High Court also stated that any such advice could not be overlooked excluding on the grounds of substantial and acceptable reasons of greater quality.  Also, the entire process must have a written record as it will bring in more clarity and transparency in the system, the Madras HC said.

The permission for Oral consultation is not offered as it can cause issues like self- governance the court said. The fundamental right to sanction still lies with the Town Planning authority, the approval for Panchayats to sanction building approval only means functional decentralization of the TCP Act under which the responsibilities have been designated to the next level from the authority to the Panchayats.

This is nearly after a quarter of a century the court now had to deal with such an issue and anticipated that there can be more such cases.

However, the Government must take corrective measures to resolve these kinds of issues. Also, there must a designated legislation to deal with these issues to help people at large.