The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday directed the principal secretary at the state urban development department and the Shimla municipal commissioner to appear in the court on May 12 on the issue of encroachments, overhanging and projections in the city's Lower Bazaar locality.
A division bench comprising chief justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed the order on a petition taken up suo moto by the court as public interest litigation following a news report on the encroachments. The court also asked the government to file its response to the suggestions made by the amicus curiae and posted the matter to May 12.
It had been earlier reported that, during a joint mock drill conducted by the fire department and the municipal corporation, it was found fire brigade vehicles could not get to the fire scene on time due to the encroachments and overhanging projections in the Lower Bazaar area.
In its previous hearing the court had directed the municipal commissioner to issue notices to the encroachers returnable within a week, remove encroachments and to file a status report with the court. The court had also directed the advocate general to forward suggestions for amending the laws to bring encroachers to book and prevent them from becoming habitual offenders.
Earlier, the Shimla superintending of Police had submitted that the police had been taking punitive action against encroachers time and again. "Around 104 fines were issued last year and several criminal cases were filed against offenders under section 283 of the Indian Penal Code," he had said.