Alarmed by the large and rising number of cases in which courts have granted a stay on demolition of illegal structures, the civic body has decided to fix responsibility on an unlikely section of its staff —public law officers.
The whip was cracked after it was found that the assistant law officers (ALOs) are colluding with advocates representing those opposing the civic action, and deliberately concede the stay order either by presenting faulty and feeble arguments, or by continually seeking more time to present the administration’s side.
Each of the 22 wards in the city has an ALO. With over 22,000 such cases pending, municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar recently issued a circular prescribing action against ALOs who don’t vacate the stay orders within two months from their date of issuance. “If found that an ALO has purposely not taken adequate steps to the vacate a stay, he will be penalised Rs2,000 from his salary,” the circular reads.
The circular asks each ALO to file affidavits in at least 30 cases, with necessary information from relevant departments.
Kumar had started a drive against illegal constructions, which is when he learnt that several structures couldn’t be touched as there was a stay order. “Whenever we serve a notice on an illegal construction, the first thing the accused do is approach the court, where our lawyers end up asking for more time to file a reply, which leads to the court granting stay until further hearing,” said a senior civic official.
Additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani said: “We want to reduce the number of cases in which stay orders have been issued. The ALOs will be held responsible for any new stay orders their cases receive.”