The Union urban development ministry is in no hurry to rush through the Master Plan 2021 to tackle the sealing drive. The reason: It fears that the Supreme Court would strike down the new Master Plan.
"MPD 2021 might not provide a solution to the controversy arising from the sealing drive. The apex court has made it clear that any notification has to be vetted by the court first. As the MPD 2021 would be a notification, it would have to be first submitted in the court," said a top official of UDM. This means that the MPD 2021 could be delayed indefinitely even though it is almost ready to be notified.
Officials involved in the exercise of finding a solution out of the sealing drive expressed their helplessness given the Supreme Court judgment. "The notification which notified 2,183 streets as either commercial or of mixed land use was a modification of the Master Plan 2001. This was an executive power vested in us. If this did not stand the scrutiny of the courts, how can a new Master Plan?" asked the official, on condition of anonymity.
The DDA Act specifies how a Master Plan can be amended. If the amendment is minor, the DDA can do it all alone. However, if a significant amendment is made, the central government has to be consulted. For making exhaustive changes, the UDM has to be involved in the entire exercise. Exhaustive changes mean promulgation of a new Master Plan.
"We are finding out whether Master Plan 2021 can be put under Schedule IX of the Constitution so that it gets legal immunity," said the official. Elaborating, he said the options before the UDM are limited. "Apart from filing a review petition in the court, we are exploring the possibility of putting both the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and the MPD-2021 under the Schedule IX of the Constitution," the official added.
Armed with limited options, the UDM is on the tenterhooks on what would happen from November 1 onwards when the sealing drive starts afresh. "The Group of Ministers on sealing and the Union Cabinet would be apprised of the limited options we have and then we would seek guidance on how to get legal immunity for the executive powers vested in us," added the official.