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Supreme Court raps special task force for ‘not helping’ with sealing drive

The apex court asked the STF if it was under pressure from other agents, probably traders.

delhi Updated: Sep 08, 2018 02:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi,Delhi sealing,STF
East Delhi Municipal Corporation started a sealing drive at Vishwas Nagar area, lane number 10, in east Delhi, India.(HT File Photo)

The Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee on Friday complained to the court that the Centre’s Special Task Force (STF) set up to take steps against unauthorized encroachment and illegal construction was not rendering any assistance to the panel in its sealing drive, prompting the judges to lash out at the STF.

“Monitoring committee is constituted by this court. If you are treating the committee in this manner then you are treating the court in this manner. Why are you doing this? Are you under pressure? Monitoring committee’s report shows you are obviously under some pressure, probably from the traders. Are your officers children? Why don’t you tell them that they need to work for the people of Delhi and not for a class of people,” Justice MB Lokur said in scathing remarks against the STF.

He alongwith Justice Deepak Gupta were hearing a case related to encroachments in the Capital. Monitoring committee resumed sealing drive in Delhi on the court’s order.

At one time the bench was inclined to even summon the DDA Vice-Chairman who also heads the STF. “Let the DDA VC be present here. Let’s talk to them,” Justice Lokur told the lawyer appearing for STF. In defence the STF advocate said the force had sent all communication to the monitoring committee and all assistance would be given to them.

The court then asked the STF to start uploading the action it has taken on an official website. Directing the force to assist the Committee and warned that any complaint will be taken seriously.

Advocate AND Rao, who is assisting the bench pointed out that the STF gave advance notice to the residents before action against unauthorised premises. This process was being misused in many cases as it gave the violator enough time to remove the encroachments temporarily or to make attempts to cover up.

Rao said it was time to switch to the old practice of issuing issuing periodic advertisements in newspapers pointing to the general violations in an area and seeking their removal. Additional solicitor general A N S Nadkarni, however, differed. He pointed out that there was likelihood that even among unauthorised structures, there may be legal ones.

“If individual notices are not given then the legal premises may also get sealed,” he said. At this Justice Lokur said that the resident can bring his licence or papers to the notice of the authorities at the time of sealing.

Noting that the extent of encroachment in Delhi was around 2280 kilometers, enough to cover a distance from Delhi to Kanyakumari, the bench remarked: “Magnitude of problem of encroachment is quite evident. It’s a matter of distress that such large encroachment was made.”

The judge then asked NAdkarni to sit with Rao and come up with some suggestions on how to proceed with the sealing drive. Court also asked Delhi government to file affidavit on the action against encroachment of forest land. Statutory authorities were ordered to see that a place cleared of illegal structure shall not be encroached again.

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 21:57 IST