HC directs SDMC, ASI to look into illegal construction near Qutub Minar
The Delhi high court has directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the zonal deputy commissioner of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to look into the matter of dereliction of duties and fix responsibility of the officers after noting that unauthorized constructions have come up within 40 meters of Qutub Minar, an ASI-protected monument.
Justice Najmi Waziri, while hearing a plea on December 23 by one Rishi Sehdev, said, “The construction has been carried out in such a large area – surely, this could not have escaped the attention of either the police, the ASI or the corporation,” the court said.
“Let the concerned zonal deputy commissioner of the corporation also look into the matter and fix responsibility of the officers who may be found to be in dereliction of their duties. Similarly, the matter be also looked by the director general of ASI. The deputy commissioner of police (south) too shall look into the matter with respect to the role of the police in this regard,” the court said.
During the hearing, the standing counsel for SDMC told the court that the permission for construction was taken from the civic body and the ASI on the basis of “misrepresentation of facts and fabrication of documents”.
Justice Waziri said this is “odd” because permission could not have been granted for any construction in the prohibited zone of 100 metres abutting a protected monument. The construction has taken place roughly 40 metres from the Qutub Minar, a world-renowned monument protected monument, he said.
The SDMC counsel also told the court that during the construction only one full grown tree has been cut. However, the court, taking note of the timeline of the Google photos submitted by the petitioner, said “quite a number of trees have been felled”.
The court also asked all the authorities to file affidavits, along with photographs and relevant documents, within four weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on February 17, 2021.