Having thrice failed to persuade the Supreme Court to give relief to commercial establishments facing closure in view of their own affidavits to cease operations in residential areas of the capital, the Centre and MCD on Monday made yet another attempt to save them from imminent sealing.
In separate applications filed in the court, the Centre and MCD urged the court to allow the 25,000-odd traders falling in this category to continue their operations as they fulfil the criteria for availing the benefit of government notifications dated September 7 and 15.
The notifications allowed commercialisation or mixed land use on 2,183 roads/stretches in the city.
Both the government and MCD pleaded that these traders may be permitted to continue on their filing of an additional affidavit by January 31, 2007 like those already covered under the notifications.
The MCD made an additional prayer for de-sealing of all such premises covered under the notifications on their filing of additional undertakings as they were identically situated.
The applications are likely to be mentioned for an urgent hearing on Tuesday, as the Centre wanted an early solution to the problem.
In fact, the decision to approach the court once again was taken by the GoM after the apex court on last Monday categorically dismissed the pleas of the Centre, Delhi government and MCD to spare these traders and ordered resumption of the sealing drive. The court had said that no one should be allowed to hold the city to ransom.
Having exhausted its legal weapons, the Centre wanted the court to show mercy to the 25,000 traders, as they were ready to stop the misuse if the notifications were declared invalid.
It said there was material change in the situation and the sealing drive was on in accordance with the court's order.
The MCD, too, submitted that sealing drive was going on in full force and urged the court to grant "judicial pardon" to this category of traders as "there are adequate grounds for parity".
In its application, the civic body said "this category (of traders) may be showered the benevolence, compassion and magnanimity of this Hon'ble Court".
It said about 300 establishments have filed affidavits that they have stopped misuse of residential premises for commercial purposes.
The CJI, WHO was upset over non-implementation of its orders by the authorities on the pretext of "volatile situation" and "law and order problem" arising out of traders' agitation, had reminded the government of its duty to extend all possible help to uphold the rule of law.
Following the rejection order, the MCD resumed the sealing drive on Wednesday in south Delhi and so far over 400 commercial establishments have been sealed.
Heavy security cover given to the MCD sealing squads and arrest of several trade leaders ensured that the traders' protests remained a timid affair.
"None can be permitted to hold the city and the law-abiding citizens to ransom and then ask for relief," the court had said, rejecting government's argument that the sealing drive could not be resumed, as law-and-order problems were feared.
"The problems arose probably because we committed a mistake by granting relief to five lakh traders on September 29," it had noted.
The government had said it was not against sealing, but that it should be carried out first against 5,500 premises, which were not covered under either of the two notifications or any court order.
Big fish netted so far:
Haldiram, CTC Plaza, Thapar House, Bata showroom, Pulse-Impulse fitness centre, Yamaha showroom, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Rana Automobile, Nirmal Furnishing, IGP Mall, Regency Guest House, Sita Play School, Kangaroo Kids, Shehnaz Hussain Beauty Products Shop, Shopping acrades housing offices, jewellery showrooms and boutiques etc.