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Billroth Hospitals approaches HC against ‘coercive action’

Billroth Hospitals at Shenoy Nagar here has approached the Madras High Court to restrain Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) from taking what it called “any coercive action” against it pending consideration of an application made by it to regularise an eight-storey building constructed by it despite obtaining building plan approval for only three floors.

In an affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, the hospitals’ Managing Director Rajesh Jeganathan, 40, stated that it was his father V. Jeganathan who founded the hospital in 1990 with just 30 beds. Gradually it grew into a 650 bed super-specialty hospital in 2007 and began providing free healthcare services to the poor and needy, he claimed.

Asserting that the contentious eight storey ‘S’ block of the hospital has been in existence since 2004-05, Dr. Jeganathan said his father had applied for regularisation beyond the third floor on October 12, 2006 itself. However, the CMDA rejected and the Housing Secretary too confirmed the rejection. Nevertheless, no coercive action was initiated thereafter.

In 2017, when the government came up with a scheme to regularise buildings that were constructed before July 1, 2007, the hospital made yet another application for regularisation. However, the scheme itself was challenged before the High Court which had directed the CMDA to process all applications but not to take any final decisions on them.

P. Krishnan, a local resident, filed a public interest litigation petition against the hospital and a Division Bench of Justices S. Vaidyanathana and Subramonium Prasad on May 9 directed disconnection of power to the hospital beyond the third floor by May 31 and directed the hospital to shift all patients from the top floors by then.

The judges further ordered that the doors, windows, glasses, toilet seats and bidets on the floors beyond the third should be removed between May 31 and June 2 and they should be made unusable. It was also made clear that the floors constructed in violation of the building plan should be demolished without disturbing the patients in the first three floors.

Claiming that the PIL petition was filed by “certain miscreants not able to digest the growth of the hospital,” its MD stated that the court too came to a wrong conclusion that the floors should be demolished. He contended that the building could not be demolished until the regularisation application was disposed of.

Though the Division Bench had come to a conclusion that the floors beyond the third should have been constructed only during 2009 since the hospital had been paying property tax for only three floors till then, the MD claimed that it had come into existence much before the cut off date of July 2007 fixed by the government for regularisation.

In its interim order, the Bench had rejected the hospital’s argument that it was doing yeoman service to the people and therefore such coercive steps need not be taken against it. “Though it is a hospital, in our view, it is purely run for the commercial purpose so as to mint money without bothering about service to the public.

“It is apposite to mention that the officials concerned who are entrusted with the work of removal of illegal constructions and encroachments but shirking their responsibility can merely be construed as traitors of the nation. No court would like to play the role of a traitor in ordering regularisation of illegal constructions and encroachments.”

The Bench had also said, it was for the Income Tax department to ascertain whether the hospital had used black or white money to construct the top five floors without a valid plan approval.

Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/billroth-hospitals-approaches-hc-against-coercive-action/article27200912.ece

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