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Delhi sealing drive may hit Khan Market restaurants next

The Delhi High Court refused to stay the New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) notice demanding restaurant owners obtain no objection certificates from the fire department within 15 days.

delhi Updated: Apr 21, 2018 12:51 IST
Richa Banka & Vibha Sharma
Richa Banka & Vibha Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Khan Market,Delhi sealing drive,Khan Market restaurants
A view of Khan Market in New Delhi. A PIL had sought action against restaurants in Khan Market and Connaught Place for not obtaining fire safety clearances.(Sanchit Khanna /HT File Photo)

Restaurant owners of Khan Market are likely to face sealing action next week after the Delhi High Court on Friday refused to stay the New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) notice demanding restaurant owners obtain no objection certificates (NoC) from the fire department within 15 days.

On April 5, NDMC’s health department had issued notices to around 40 restaurant owners operating from ground, first and second floor complexes of Khan Market. They were told to obtain NoCs for fire safety in next 15 days to avoid legal action including sealing of premises and revocation of health licence.

NDMC’s notice came after the high court had issued orders in a pending PIL by one Manjeet Singh, who had sought action against restaurants in Khan Market and Connaught Place for not obtaining fire safety clearances.

A senior NDMC official said that the deadline to obtain fire NoCs was April 20. He added that they will decide action against the restaurants on Monday.

“Even though the final decision on this matter has to be taken by the chairman of NDMC, there are chances that the restaurants will face sealing action next week,” the official said.

On Friday, a bench of acting chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Harishankar dismissed an application moved by the Khan Market Welfare Association on behalf of the restaurant owners stating that the plea was “not maintainable”.

“We are of the view that the application is not maintainable,” the bench said, questioning the locus of the association to come to the court. It asked the owners to individually file separate writ petitions to challenge the notice issued by the NDMC.

The bench also raised questions on the content of the notices sent to the owners, stating that the association had not annexed all the notices to prove that the content was same in all the cases.

Appearing for the Khan Market Welfare Association, its counsel argued that the notice was bad in law and arbitrary.

However, the court said that the notices which have been sent to individual restaurant owners may be on different bases and hence the application seeking interim relief was dismissed.

The court, however, issued notices to NDMC, Delhi police, Delhi Fire services (DFS), DDA and other respondents on the application by the association to be impleaded as a party in the pending PIL.

Anshu Tandon, President of the Khan Market Welfare Association, said that the notice to them was nothing but eyewash and a gimmick by the NDMC to save their own skin pursuant to the orders of the Delhi High Court.

“The notice sent to us is illegal and we are going to fight the case,” he said.

First Published: Apr 21, 2018 12:50 IST