Times of India | 1 week ago | 06-08-2022 | 06:44 am
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat's controversial Disturbed Areas Act was challenged in the Gujarat high court on Friday on the ground that the law does not leave a scope for residents to register any objection against an area being demarcated as a communally disturbed area. Petitioner Ali Hussain Vohra from Vadodara has filed the petition through advocate Jitendra Malkan, who submitted that the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Properties and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in the Disturbed Areas Act is in violation of principle of natural justice. This is because the provisions in this law provide that the authorities are not obliged to invite objections from public before declaring an area as communally disturbed. Malkan submitted that the Gujarat Town Planning Act provides for a provision that before taking any decision with regard to land or area, which is likely to change propriety right of any citizen, the authorities must hear the property owner. The hearing must take place because changing nature of the area imposes certain restrictions on properties. The earmarking of any areas under the Disturbed Areas Act imposes certain restrictions on transactions of properties and it affects the market rates. But this law does not have any provision of inviting any suggestion or objection before demarcating the area under this Act. In fact, the law says that the authority can do it without inviting challenge or objection from people, and merely on the basis of satisfaction on part of the authorities that riots and violence take place in the area. This is in violation of the principle of natural justice, he argued. The petitioner had filed a similar petition in 2020 but withdrew it later. The court asked the petitioner's counsel to supply the record of earlier litigation. The court also inquired about other litigation challenging legality of provisions of the law. In response, the state government submitted that two petitions are pending in which the 2019 amendment was challenged because the amendment was against the spirit of diversity and plurality. A Muslim outfit Jamiat Ulama Hind had sought a stay on 3(1)(2) and (3) of the amended Act, which empowers the authorities to permanently declare any area as communally disturbed merely on apprehension that the demography could be changed if people of a particular community would buy properties from other community. In January 2021, the HC stayed the amendment. Besides, certain notifications earmarking different areas as communally disturbed have also been under challenge. The HC has posted the case for hearing on September 6.