The Telangana High Court said the state government had no authority to put the heritage buildings list on the back-burner or to vapourise every sign of its existence.

Additional advocate general J. Ramachandra Rao said there was no heritage list as regulation 13 of the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority Zoning Regulations (which provides a scheme for the identification and conservation of heritage and historic buildings) was repealed in 2015 by GO 183.

In response, Justice Chauhan asked the AAG to look into Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, the provision that expounds the effects of a repeal of an Act or regulation.

The Chief Justice then clarified that as per the provision, the heritage list, comprising 137 buildings and 15 other structures and prepared by the Heritage Conservation Committee, was never affected by the repeal. According to section 6, the buildings mentioned in the list have to be protected.

The bench concluded that to alter or demolish any structure mentioned in the heritage list, the government must first take permission from the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Agency.

The case was adjourned to July 22 for submissions from the Telangana government on the petitions.

The court is dealing with a batch of writ petitions against the state government’s proposal to demolish the Errum Manzil. One of the main contentions is that the structure is a heritage monument, which the government has strenuously denied.

Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan while heading the bench with Justice Shameem Akther called the provision a “China Wall” for the petitioners appealing against the demolition of Errum Manzil. The bench made the observation on Wednesday when additional advocate general (AAG) J. Ramachandra Rao stated that the Hyderabad zoning regulations had been repealed and therefore, the heritage list was non-existent.

In response to the bench, which questioned the government’s decision to demolish Errum Manzil, the AAG said Errum Manzil is government property and the council of  ministers wants to construct the new legislature complex in its place.

The court then asked how the government could move forward with its demolition while the building was on the heritage list, which was to be protected as per the recommendations of the Heritage Conservation Committee and regulations of the Urban Areas Development Act, 1975.

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