MOHAN M.SHANTANAGOUDAR,J. -
(2.)The instant appeals arise out of the common final judgment and order dated 27.04.2015 passed by the High
Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru in W.P. Nos. 60278, 60279,
60280, 60304-60315 of 2011. Vide the impugned order, the High Court dismissed the writ petitions seeking a direction to
the Respondent-authorities to restrain them from demolishing
the restaurants and guest houses run by the writ petitioners in
Virupapura Gaddi, Koppal district, Karnataka.
(3.)The background to this appeal is as follows:
3.1 With the object of ensuring the preservation of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains in the erstwhile State of Mysore, the Mysore Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1961 (hereinafter 'the 1961 Act') was enacted. Under this statute, the State Government was accorded the power to declare certain ancient monuments as 'protected monuments' and certain archaeological sites and remains as 'protected areas'. Accordingly, in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 19(1) of the 1961 Act, the State Government issued a (preliminary) notification on 19.05.1982 for declaration of certain archaeological sites and remains specified in the schedule thereto as 'protected areas'. Subsequently, on 22.10.1988, a (final) notification was issued under Section 19(3) of the 1961 Act declaring ten villages, including Virupapura Gaddi, as 'protected areas' (hereinafter 'the 1988 notification').
3.2 It is the case of the Appellants that they own land(s) in Virupapura Gaddi, an oval islet formed by the Tungabhadra river, located on the west of the Hampi World Heritage site. The Appellants claim that during the period from 1990-2000, given the increasing number of tourists visiting Virapupura Gaddi, they obtained hotel/restaurant licenses from the village panchayat to cater to the needs of the tourists. In certain instances, they also obtained diversion orders from the local authorities for changing the land use from agricultural to non- agricultural, so that they could run hotels, restaurants, and guest houses in their premises.
3.3 However, upon the introduction of the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority Act, 2002 (hereinafter 'the Hampi Act'), the authority constituted thereunder, the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority (hereinafter 'HWHAMA'), Respondent No. 4 herein, directed the panchayats and local authorities not to renew any licenses and not to grant permission for commercial activities within Virupapura Gaddi. Later, in exercise of its powers under the Hampi Act, the HWHAMA issued notices to the Appellants for demolishing the structures constructed by them. To restrain them from doing so, the Appellants herein filed writ petitions before the High Court, seeking the identical relief of a direction to HWHAMA to forbear from carrying out such demolition.
3.4 Vide the impugned judgment dated 27.04.2015, the High Court of Karnataka dismissed these writ petitions. The High Court found that the 1988 notification declared the entire village of Virupapura Gaddi as protected area. As a result, Section 20(1) of the 1961 Act came into operation, rendering the land there usable for the purposes of cultivation only, unless otherwise approved by the State Government. Thus, given that the writ petitioners had constructed rooms, thatched roof huts, temporary structures, and buildings to carry on the business of hotels, restaurants, or guesthouses in Virupapura Gaddi, it was held that such construction was in violation of the 1961 Act. It was also observed that the panchayats did not have any authority to accord sanction to the building plans, as such power was solely vested with the State Government under Section 20(1) of the 1961 Act. Furthermore, it was noted that Virupapura Gaddi fell in the 'core zone' of the heritage area specified under the Hampi Act, and was therefore subject to the authority of the HWHAMA. Hence, in light of the illegality of the constructions under the 1988 notification, the HWHAMA could demolish the structures erected by the Appellants. It is against this common judgment and order that the Appellants have come in appeal before this Court.