Chandni Chowk row: HC firm on its stand, says remove kiosk

  • Soibam Rocky Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 08, 2016 23:39 IST
Municipality workers demolished a water kiosk in Chandni Chowk, leading to members of the Sikh community protesting against the encroachment demolition drive. The drive was by the Delhi high court. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

The Delhi high court on Friday refused to change its order to remove a ‘piao’ (drinking water kiosk) in front of Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk, which was reconstructed overnight after municipal officials demolished it in an anti-encroachment drive.

A mob took to violent protests on Wednesday when municipal officials demolished the ‘piao’ following the high court’s March 28 order. The kiosk was rebuilt after officials left.

A bench of Justice S Murlidhar and Justice Vibhu Bakhru expressed strong displeasure at the incident saying, “This is not about the piao. For us, it is the dignity of court and the rule of law. We don’t want people to get the message that they can take law in their hand. This is a complete breakdown of law and order, and we can’t allow that to happen”.

It did not pass any order on the plea of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) to maintain status quo with regard to the ‘piao’ saying, “Since it has already been reconstructed, it can be done again” if it is found that it was a heritage structure.

Senior counsel Pratibha Singh, appearing for DSGMC, said the ‘piao’ was part of the historical gurdwara.

To this the court said, “We will visit all your contention with regard to the piao being part of a heritage site”.

The Delhi government also sought relaxation of the court’s order with regard to the removal of the piao, as it was for providing free drinking water to people.

“Why don’t you as a government supply free drinking water without using the piao… You can play your politics in the streets, but not in courts...Don’t discriminate between those, who go to a gurdwara or a mandir, with those on the streets,” the court remarked.

It directed Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to hold a meeting with the commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and secretary concerned of the Public Works Department (PWD) with regard to another structure at Bhai Matidas Chowk and report to the court.

The bench directed DSGMC’s Manjit Singh GK and Manjinder Singh Sirsa from visiting the piao site, which is already cordoned off, or taking any precipitative action. It, however, clarified that they can visit the gurdwara.

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