In a major relief to thousands of traders, the Supreme Court on Friday permitted them to continue their commercial activities in residential areas in the capital.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice YK Sabharwal and Justices CK Thakker and RV Ravindran virtually permitted the central government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to give effect to the notification issued by them allowing commercial activities to be continued notwithstanding the apex court judgment.
By a notification issued on Sep 7, the union urban development ministry put a moratorium on the sealing process. On Sep 15, the MCD issued another notification identifying about 2,200 roads in the capital where commercial activities could be continued.
The court severely criticised the central government and the MCD for the manner in which the notifications were issued to overreach the orders of the court.
The bench made it clear that no further notifications could be given without the court's permission and said the rule of law and dignity of the court had to be maintained by everyone; no attempt should be made to bring down the majesty of the law.
Though the sealing operations were to resume from Sep 16 as per the Supreme Court direction on Aug 10, the government had put a halt to it following widespread protests by traders and others.
The notifications were challenged in the Supreme Court and on Sep 25 the court said it would pass orders on an application seeking stay of the two notifications.
In Friday's order, the bench virtually allowed the government to give effect to the notifications and to permit the traders to continue their business. The bench, however, did not give any relief to those 50,000 who had given an undertaking that they would cease commercial activity by June 30. The judges said those who gave the undertaking would have to close their business by Oct 31, failing which their premises would be sealed.
The bench said those who were covered by the two notifications would have to give an undertaking that their continuance would be subject to the outcome of the petitions pending in the apex court. The bench directed the 22 categories of small traders to get themselves registered before the MCD by Dec 31.