In a move that could reopen the doors to the Capital’s wild and illegal expansion, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday disbanded panels it had earlier appointed to monitor unauthorized constructions and ensure their demolition.
The mechanism of Court Commissioners and Monitoring Committee put in place in 2006 had helped reclaim public land worth Rs 15,000 crore.
Delhiites fear the worst. The Chittranjan Park RWA secretary P.K. Roy said: “The court commissioners were like a watchdog, keeping a constant watch on unauthorised constructions in the city. Now, the element of fear will not be visible in corrupt MCD officials."
The court order came on a petition filed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which had said the panels behaved like a “parallel administration”.
The MCD had also cited observations by Supreme Court judge Markandeya Katju in December 2007 on judicial overreach of Delhi High Court in carrying out demolitions through these panels.
“We are of the prima-facie view that by the very nature of the scope of the powers of the Monitoring Committee and the Court Commissioners, their appointment can only be for a given period … they cannot be a permanent feature...,” said a bench of justices Mukul Mudgal and Manmohan.
Another bench of the court had appointed these panels after the demolition drive ordered by it in 2005 made little progress.
So what next? The judges put in place a three-tier system proposed by MCD with accountability fixed on officers from junior engineer to the additional commissioner for about six months. They did not rule out more “remedial measures” if this fails.
Encouraged, MCD Standing Committee Chairman Vijendra Gupta said: “We will now ask for the disbanding of the SC-appointed monitoring committee."