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October 27, 2020

Conversion Of A Public Park Into A Residential Area Is Unconstitutional

Author: Nayantara Malhotra

In Jan Kalyan Samiti v. State of Haryana and Ors. [CWP-16291-2020], a Division Bench [Rajiv Sharma and Harinder Singh Sidhu, JJ.] of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana vide its order dated October 6, 2020, temporarily stayed the conversion of public parks in a Faridabad township into residential areas and held that each citizen has the fundamental right to fresh air.

The Petitioner, a society in Faridabad, contented that as per the master plan, 7.5 acres of area of the township was earmarked for public parks. However, over the course of time, slums, residential houses, workshops, etc. unauthorizedly came up in the open areas. The Petitioner further contended that even though the Court had earlier issued directions for removal of the encroachments from the parks, the Government of Haryana approved a proposal to convert the public parks into residential areas, and consequently, the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad invited objections/suggestions on the proposal. Accordingly, the Petitioner sought a stay on, inter alia, the proposal and the invitation of objections/suggestions on the proposal.

Placing reliance on, inter alia, Bangalore Medical Trust v. B.S. Muddappa and Ors. [(1991) 4 SCC 54] and Virender Gaur and others v. State of Haryana and Ors. [(1995) 2 SCC 577], the Court observed “We are of the prima facie view that action of the respondents in converting public park into residential area is unconstitutional and contrary to law. The residents of the Society have a fundamental right to free air and to enjoy the public amenities. It was expected from the respondents to evict the illegal encroachers from the public land instead of nullifying the orders passed by this Court from time to time by converting the park into residential areas. The respondents are bound to preserve and save the open spaces. Every citizen has a fundamental right to fresh air. The ecology and environment of the area would be affected drastically if the parks are converted into residential area.”

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