Delhi Police have moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its sealing case order making Station House Officers personally liable for commercial activities in residential areas in violation of sanctioned building plans in the capital.
"Delhi Police is specifically governed by the Delhi Police Act and in this Act there is no such duty as held by this Hon'ble Court. Hence, SHOs/Delhi Police cannot be held personally liable for violation of building bye-laws/misuse of residential properties," DCP headquarters HM Meena said in an application filed in the apex court on behalf of Delhi Police Commissioner KK Paul.
The Supreme Court had on November 23, 2007 made it clear that "no fresh commercial activity in building sanctioned for residential purposes can be allowed and on violation being noticed, it would be the personal liability of the Deputy Commissioner of the concerned (municipal) Zone to take appropriate action. It will also be the personal liability of the concerned SHO to inform the concerned officers in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi."
"If, despite that, the commercial activity is noticed, these officers shall have to be held personally liable for the consequences," the apex court had said.
However, the Delhi Police pointed out that "the primary statutory duty of checking unauthorised constructions in residential areas and conversion of residential buildings to non-residential buildings and their utilisation for commercial purposes is that of the MCD and DDA."
"These being land-owning agencies are responsible for the protection of their land from encroachment/misuse and can effect the closure/sealing of commercial activity in the residential premises," the application said.
"The police assistance is provided as and when demanded by such agencies," the application said adding "affixing personal liability of the SHOs may not be fair."
It further pointed out that this was hardly a police function and in fact, would be directly in the domain of the engineering personnel of the MCD or the civic agency concerned. The court would hear the application next week.