S. 80-IB(10): Multiple Housing Projects On 1 Acre Plot Permissible
The High Court had to consider the following questions on interpretation of s. 80-IB(10): (i) what is a “housing project” u/s 80-IB(10)?, (ii) whether if approval for construction of ‘E’ building was granted by the local authority subject to the conditions set out in the first approval granted on 12.5.1993 for construction of A and B building, construction of ‘E’ building is an “extension” of the earlier housing project for which approval was granted prior to 1.10.1998 and, therefore, benefit of s. 80IB (10) cannot be granted?, (iii) whether the housing project must be on a vacant plot of land which has minimum area of one acre and if there are multiple buildings and the proportionate area for each building is less than one acre, s. 80-IB(10) can be denied?, whether the merger of two flats into one so as to exceed the maximum size of 1000 sq feet violates the condition set out in s. 80IB (10)? HELD by the High Court:
(i) As the expression ‘housing project’ is not defined, it must have the common parlance meaning and means constructing a building or group of buildings consisting of several residential units. The approval granted to a building plan constitutes approval granted to a housing project. Construction of even one building with several residential units of the size not exceeding 1000 square feet would constitute a ‘housing project’ u/s 80IB (10);
(ii) ‘E’ building is an independent housing project and not an extension of the housing project already existing on the plot because when the earlier plans were approved, ‘E’ building was not even contemplated and came into existence much later. The fact that the approval was granted on the same terms as that granted to the other buildings does not make it an “extension”;
(iii) S. 80IB (10)(b) specifies the size of the plot of land but not the size of the housing project. While the plot must have a minimum area of one acre, it need not be a vacant plot. The object of s. 80IB (10) is to boost the stock of houses. There can be multiple housing projects on a plot of land having minimum area of one acre;
(iv) On facts, as there was no merger of flats and no application was made to the local authority seeking merger of two flats, there was no violation.