Power to determine extent of penalty lies with Centre: HC

Directing the Chandigarh Administration to revamp and update the Act under which the city was established, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has also ruled that the power to "determine" the "extent" of penalties for violations does not rest with the Chandigarh Administration.

The High Court has made it clear that the said power rests only with the legislature, the Central government.

If Chandigarh has to change the amount of penalty to be levied for any violation and resumption of property, the High Court has ordered that it (UT) can only do so by amending the Act and not by merely amending certain rules in the Act.

Noting that determining the extent of penalty is the exclusive domain of the legislature, the High Court has held that for the past 60 years, the Chandigarh Administration has been changing the amount of penalty by simply amending the rules.

It is Section 22 of the Capital of Punjab (Development & Regulation) Act, 1952 under which the administration has been determining and changing the extent of penalities to be levied on violators.

The High Court has held that the said section empowers the Central government to make rules "for carrying out the purposes" of the 1952 Act.

"It's sub-section in particular and without prejudice empowers the Central government to make rules to provide for all or any of the subject matters mentioned therein. It is well known that where a statute confers particular powers without prejudice to the generality of a general power already conferred, the particular powers are only illustrative in nature and do not impinge upon the general power," remarked a full bench comprising Justices Surya Kant, Augustine George Masih and R P Nagrath on Thursday.

The bench has observed that "there should be no difficulty in understanding that the power to determine the nature and extent of penalties for varied violations under the Act was neither intended nor was delegated by the Legislature to the Executive. Had it been so, no occasion could arise for the Legislature to fix the amount of lumpsum or day-to-day penalty as has been done by it under the 1952 Act".

... contd.

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