No stopping of sealing or demolition of illegal construction in Delhi: SC

PTI

File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that there would be “no stopping of sealing or demolition” of unauthorised constructions in Delhi after the Centre said it had not given any instructions to the civic bodies to go slow or stop the sealing drive against offending structures.

A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta passed a slew of directions in the matter and said that construction activity be stopped with “immediate effect” wherever any unauthorised construction was noticed or booked by authorities concerned in the national capital.

The court also directed the Centre to contemplate framing rules for “blacklisting” builders, contractors and architects who were found responsible for coming up of illegal constructions here.

It asked the Special Task Force (STF), constituted on April 25 following the court’s order to oversee enforcement of laws on illegal constructions here, to explore the feasibility of “digital mapping” of Delhi with assistance from National Informatics Centre or the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Digital mapping is a process of collecting data which is compiled into virtual image and give accurate details of a particular area.

“We make it clear that there will be no stopping of sealing or demolition of unauthorised constructions,” the bench said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, told the bench that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has launched a mobile application on July 9 to enable the citizens lodge complaints about illegal constructions and encroachments and so far, 431 complaints have been received and action was taken in 138 matters.

A lawyer, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, referred to media reports which said that thousands of complaints were registered on the DDA’s mobile application.

DDA’s vice-chairman, who was also present in the court, clarified that so far, 431 complaints have been received and action of either demolition, removal or sealing was taken on 138 such complaints.

The bench said that adequate publicity should be given to the mobile application so that people could be made aware about it.

The court said that a show cause notice should be issued to the owner of building where unauthorised construction was found and 48 hours time be given to him or her respond to it as to why action be not taken against them.

It also said that in appropriate cases, show cause notice be served on the owner by affixing the notice at the building.

During the hearing, the amicus told the bench that Forum of MCD Engineers has communicated to him about the threats being extended to them when they had gone to carry out sealing drive as per the directions by the authorities.

“We direct that adequate police protection be given (to the officials) whenever such activity (sealing drive) will be carried out. There is no point in saying that the situation is volatile. It is the duty and responsibility of the police to ensure that law and order is maintained,” the bench said.

It also took note of the submissions by the amicus that Forum of MCD Engineers has informed him about the alleged threats given to them by Mukesh Suryan, chairman of ward committee of Najafgarh zone.

The bench, while observing that it appeared that Suryan had allegedly prevented the officers from carrying their duty, issued notice and directed him to personally appear before the court to explain about the allegations levelled against him.

The bench also directed that official file relating to transfer of Najafgarh zone deputy commissioner Vishwendra Singh, who was allegedly shifted “within hours” at Suryan’s instance, be placed before it.

When the authority concerned claimed before the court that Singh’s transfer was “routine”, the court asked it to file an affidavit in this regard.

The bench also directed that a senior officer of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) be co-opted in the STF after the amicus said that several historical monuments were there in the national capital and the ASI was the authority looking after these structures.

(PTI)