Supreme Court orders no demolition in Jahangirpuri for another two weeks; maintains status quo

Supreme Court issues notice to North DMC and others on plea against demolition drive in Jahangirpuri. Court says status quo to be maintained, asks North DMC and others to file reply on the plea

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

NH Web Desk

Supreme Court issued notice to North DMC and others on plea against demolition drive in Jahangirpuri. Court extended status quo to be maintained until further orders and asked North Delhi Municipal Corporation and others to file a reply on the plea.

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai issued notice to NDMC in the petition filed by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. The observed that they will "serious view of demolition that took place after information was given to Mayor". The petitions will be listed after two weeks.

The Court issued notice to the union government and the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat on another petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind against the authorities in different states resorting to demolition of houses of persons accused in crimes.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Dushyant Dave told the Court that the case involved far-reaching questions of constitutional and national importance.

Dave stated that a particular section of society was being targeted through the demolition drive. "They (NDMC) knew we will mention at 10.30 am (on Wednesday) and that is why demolition began at 9 am. They continued even after the status quo order was passed. This affects rule of law and there will be no democracy left," said Dave.

He went on to point out how immense migration to Delhi had effected changes beyond what the Delhi Master Plan envisioned. "There are 731 unauthorised colonies in Delhi with lakhs of people and you pick up one colony because you target one community," said Dave before the bench.

He argued that if the MCD wanted to act against unauthorised constructions, they must go to Sainik Farms or Golf Links where every second home is an encroachment. "You don't want to touch them, but target the poor people," highlighted Dave.

Dave reiterated that the isn’t issue wasn't confined to Jahangirpuri. "It's on social fibre of this country. If this is allowed there will be no rule of law left. How is this President of BJP writes and asks to start demolition and they start?," asked Dave.

Justice Rao asked if it was a matter of "national importance" as it was only confined to an area in Delhi. Dave said that it has become a "State policy" now that after every riots, a particular section of the society is targeted using bulldozers. "How is it that bulldozers have become an instrument of state policy?", he asked.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal underscored that what was happening is that the state is associating Muslims with encroachment. Responding to this, Justice Rao asked if no Hindu properties were demolished. Sibal said he wanted a stay of all demolitions in the country. Justice Rao said the court can't stay all demolitions in the country.

On Wednesday, a bench led the Chief Justice of India had ordered status quo on demolitions at Jhangirpuri until further orders after an urgent mention was made by Dave and Sanjay Hegde.

Appearing for CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat, Advocate PV Surendranath pointed out that despite the Court's status quo order, the demolition drive was not stopped. "She (Karat) informed the authorities. They did not stop and it went on till 12:45. She had to physically stand to stop the process."

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for Ganesh Gupta, the owner of a juice shop that was demolished as part of the drive, sought compensation for the illegal demolition.

Representing the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that the drive to remove encroachments on the footpath in Jahangirpuri had begun in January this year.

"This is what happens when organisation (Jamiat) comes here suddenly. I will show you instances when notice is not required and illegal structures were given the notice. Traders have moved High Court last year and High Court had itself ordered demolition," claimed Mehta.

Questioning the argument that a certain community was being targeted through these demolition drives, SG Mehta pointed out that during a demolition drive held in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh last year, 88 affected parties were Hindus and 26 were Muslims.

On SG Mehta's submission that the NDMC Commissioner may use discretion to remove stalls, chairs, tables etc without notice, Justice Rao queried, "Demolition yesterday was of only stalls, chairs, tables etc?"

Justice Gavai questioned if they needed a bulldozer to remove these things. After hearing the parties, the Court ordered, "We want affidavits from the petitioner on the notices if served, and counter affidavits, and till then, status quo order will continue."

The petitioners claimed that in response to alleged acts of violence, several state governments were employing bulldozers to raze down the properties of persons suspected to be involved in such acts.

“A number of ministers and legislators, including the Chief Minister and the Home Minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh, have made statements advocating such acts and especially threatened the minority groups with destruction of their homes and commercial properties in case of riots,” the petition said.

The relief sought to include a direction that no lasting precipitative action be taken against any accused in criminal proceedings. The petition requested for providing specialised training to police personnel in order to handle communal riots, and situations where populations become restive.

The BJP-run North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) had started a two-day encroachment drive in Jahangirpuri, days after violence broke out between the two communities on Hanuman Jayanti. Delhi BJP Chief Adesh Gupta has also written to the NDMC mayor Raja Iqbal Singh to identify illegal constructions of "rioters" in Jahangirpuri and demolish them.

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    Published: 21 Apr 2022, 11:45 AM