Restrict people from purchasing more than one housing unit to solve housing crisis, Madras High Court suggests
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Restrict people from purchasing more than one housing unit to solve housing crisis, Madras High Court suggests

"Though single housing unit is enough for a family, considering the future of the children, a family can be allowed to have an additional housing unit on payment of additional charges and the third unit should be completely prohibited", the High Court observed.

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court on Tuesday mulled over the viability of the introducing restrictions on persons from acquiring more than one housing unit, given the problem of inadequate housing faced by many in the country.

A Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose observed,

“Every individual has the right to purchase/own more than one house and as on date there is no restriction to own more than one house. However, such individuals should think of rights of others to have a house and avoid grabbing houses which should be available to others.”

The Court proceeded to note that since the right to property is only a constitutional right, and not a fundamental right, the Government has the power to impose restrictions on the purchase of property for housing until the objective of “Housing for all” is achieved.

… the Government has got power to put restrictions to buy properties till ‘Housing for all' is achieved. If more money is available with him/her, he/she can invest in bank and the money should not be used to purchase more than one house which would eventually result in denying of housing rights to the needy people.
Madras High Court
Justices N Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose
Justices N Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose

Sensitise officials to strictly comply with Land Acquisition law

The main matter concerned an appeal file by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board against a 2004 single judge ruling whereby land acquisition proceedings for a housing project was quashed.

The land acquisition was quashed as it was found that the government officials had failed to comply with the mandatory step of notifying the acquisition proceedings in two widely circulated newspapers under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition law then prevailing. Further, the officials had also failed to put out a declaration concerning the acquisition in terms of Section 6.

Dismissing the appeal filed agains the single judge verdict, the Division Bench of the Madras High Court deprecated the negligence on the part of the officials in complying with the procedure, and emphasised,

The officials should be sensitized about the strict provisions of the land acquisition Act, presently the New Act. Only then, the officials would take appropriate action within the time period stipulated under the Act, in compliance with the provisions of the Act.

On being appraised that there was a deficit in infrastructure and supporting staff when it comes to carrying out land acquisition procedures, the Court also recommended the Government should establish a separate wing for the purpose so that there will not be any lacunae or non-compliance of the provisions of land acquisition law.

Restrict purchase of housing properties, High Court suggests

Although the appeal in the main matter stood dismissed, the High Court proceeded to delve into larger issues concerning the availability of adequate housing for all. In doing so, the Court also opined that the issue of inadequate housing may be addressed by putting a cap on the number of housing units that can be acquired. In this regard, the order records,

Lakhs and lakhs of people are living on platforms, roads, cement pipes, slums, under the trees and on banks of water bodies without proper shelter and basic amenities and safety. It is true that the Central Government has presently taken a policy decision to provide housing unit to every family. It should be achieved at the earliest. It could become fruitful when restrictions are put on persons who hold more than one housing units.”

To this end, the Court suggested that the Government introduced law to disincentivized people from buying more than one housing unit. Further, it was suggested that a prohibition be placed on the acquisition of more than two housing units.

Though single housing unit is enough for a family, considering the future of the children, a family can be allowed to have an additional housing unit on payment of additional charges and the third unit should be completely prohibited.
Madras High Court

In line with these proposals, the Court also suggested that inquiries be made into the source of income where it is found that a family possessor than two housing properties.

“.. if it is found in the survey that a family possesses more than two housing properties, the source of income for purchasing those properties should also be enquired into and investigated by the authorities.”

The Court added that these proposals may aid in bringing down property prices, help more persons acquire housing, prevent real estate mafia activities and ease the exploitation of natural resources.

By this restrictions, not only the price of housing units will come down but the persons who do not have sufficient means to purchase housing units will be in a position to purchase the property … It will go in a long way preventing the real estate people from converting the agricultural land into commercial properties or housing properties and thereby the agricultural lands can also be saved …

… the above restrictions would definitely reduce mindless exploitation of natural resources like sand, water, trees etc., which are all nowadays exploited illegally. Only if these natural resources are saved, they would be available for our posterity.

List of queries posed

The Court further has impleaded the Union Ministries of Housing and Finance. The Government respondents have been called on to submit information on the following queries, by March 6 when the matter will be taken up next.

  1. How many families have basic amenity of housing in India as well as in Tamil Nadu?

  2. What is the population and housing ratio in our country as well as in Tamil Nadu as well as in Tamil Nadu?

  3. When "Housing for All" mission of the Central Government to provide a house to each family in the country would be achieved?

  4. Whether the Central and State Governments have got special schemes for the marginalized and economically weaker sections as well as SC & ST people?

  5. How many families possess more than one house in our country as well as in Tamil Nadu?

  6. Is it not a fact that allowing a single family to acquire more housing unit/flat/plot would result in the escalation in price of the housing units in the real estate sector which would eventually deny the needy people from purchasing the property?

  7. Whether all the details regarding possession of more than one housing unit is available with the Government?

  8. If not why not the Central and the State Governments take a survey to find out the details regarding the number of housing units possessed by each individual or family?

  9. Why not the Governments restrict the families/individuals from purchasing/possessing more than one housing unit/flat/plot by defining what is meant by single housing unit till "Housing for all" is achieved?

  10. Why not the Government charge 100% more or extra stamp duty to discourage buying more than one house/flat by a family/individual while purchasing second housing unit/flat at the registration level itself?

  11. Why not the Government conditionally allow the families to purchase more than one house/flat/plot provided the said family pays 100% extra statutory dues like property tax, Electricity charges, Water and Sewerage charges on the second property?

  12. Why not the Government initially prohibit the purchase of more than one housing unit in urban area viz., Corporation/Municipality/Town Panchayat limits?

  13. Why not the financial institutions be prohibited from giving loan for purchase of more than one housing unit?

  14. Why not the Government prohibit the NRI's who are permanently settled by getting Citizenship and Permanent Resident status in various countries from purchasing housing units/plots/flats in an effort to bring down the cost of housing unit/plots in India?

  15. Why not the Government prohibit sale of houses/flats/housing plots within a short time, terming them as "speculative sale" within 3 or 5 years?

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