The Delhi High Court has slammed the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) for not providing suitable alternative sites to shopkeepers and eating joints in Gole Market who are facing eviction to enable the civic agency to redevelop the area and build a museum.
Those asked to evict include popular eating joints Galina, Sagar and some fish and meat shops operating from an old building on the roundabout — which the NDMC says is a heritage building and plans to convert into a museum.
“There is no way they can be evicted without being given a convenient alternative space. How can a civic agency behave so irresponsibly? Those who were conducting business cannot be left on the road without a job suddenly. This is how you make criminals out of common public,” justice GS Sistani told the NDMC lawyer.
The court was hearing a petition filed by 15 shopkeepers, challenging the NDMC action of evicting them without relocating them. Justice Sistani directed the NDMC not to take any coercive action against the shops till February 7, the next date of hearing.
Harish Malhotra, counsel for the shopkeepers, termed the sudden eviction move “illegal”. He said it was in contempt of a March 5, 2012 high court order which asked NDMC to relocate them after their eviction. “The NDMC offered them alternate sites but never answered their queries. They were offered shops at odd locations and the rent was very high,” said Malhotra.
“The shopkeepers have every right to know details about the previous occupants of the shops they are being given, duration for which these shops have been lying vacant and the rent paid by previous occupants. They are also entitled to a copy of minutes of the meeting in which decision to convert it into a museum was taken. The request was made repeatedly but NDMC never got back to us,” he told the court.