Demolition squads are not the only reason encroachers on government land should be losing sleep. Now they will face police cases for criminal trespass that is punishable with three-month imprisonment or Rs 500 fine or both.
Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) commissioner AK Nigam has already circulated a format to all zonal deputy commissioners, requesting their local police stations to register a case of criminal trespass against the encroachers.
The new directions have been issued on orders of the Delhi High Court-appointed monitoring committee and more than a dozen FIRs have already been registered in the central zone. The committee pointed out to the high court on Thursday that the problem of encroachments on public land has taken serious proportions with large chunks of acquired gram sabha land, parks etc. encroached with impunity.
“Several encroachments on public land at Anand Parbat, INA Market and Patel Nagar have become complex matters with several land-owning agencies being involved in the issue,” the committee said.
Considering that majority of the houses on plotted colonies has some form of excess coverage, Delhi Police officials would be burdened with thousands of FIRs under Section 441 IPC (criminal trespass) in bringing the cases to their logical conclusion in the courts.
“All forms of encroachments on government land (which includes parks, pavements and roads) would be removed by us. We will not only demolish the illegal structures, but also recommend registering of criminal cases against the encroachers at the local police station.
The FIRs can be registered even before the land is cleared of the encroachment,” said a senior MCD official.
High Court monitoring committee member BL Vohra said the rationale behind directing the MCD to issue criminal cases against government land encroachers is to invoke the fear of authority among the offenders.
“It is not just the petty traders who have set up shops on footpaths. Owners of showrooms and corner plots have also carried out massive encroachments on public land. Even first-time offenders should be severely dealt with,” said Vohra.
The MCD, however, is yet to work out a strategy on this front.
“We would be looking at major violators for starters. In cases where people have constructed semi-permanent structures like gardens or fences, we might not recommend police action because people would offer to clear the encroachments on their own,” the officer said.