In rare show of unity, Delhi Assembly passes resolution against sealing

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demands moratorium to provide relief to traders

delhi Updated: Mar 17, 2018 18:43 IST
Hindustan Times
Delhi assembly,assembly session,vidhan sabha
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal and assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel arrive for the budget session at the Vidhan Sabha in New Delhi on Friday.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

The ongoing sealing drive against commercial establishments in the city was the highlight of the first day of the Delhi Assembly’s budget session which began on Friday.

In a rare show of consensus between the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the House passed a resolution demanding an “immediate stop” to the sealing drive, while chief minister Arvind Kejriwal sought a moratorium to provide relief to traders. Speaking at the session, Kejriwal described the sealing drive, which began in December last year, as a “war-like situation”.

Terming it a “dangerous attack” on traders, the chief minister, on the suggestion of BJP’s Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta, said that an all party-delegation would meet the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee urging it to put an end to the drive.

Kejriwal reiterated that if a solution is not found till March 31, he would go on a hunger strike. In a rare show of consensus, BJP leader OP Sharma then assured the CM that the sealing drive would be halted by the end of this month. Kejriwal also requested Delhi’s seven MPs to take up the issue in the Parliament.

“Traders have been facing a lot of problems. The immediate solution is that Centre brings a moratorium so that status quo is maintained for two years,” Kejriwal said, who added that in the meantime agencies can complete all formalities to amend the existing laws, while traders can correct their violations.

The CM added that the government would go to court by Monday or Tuesday for notifying 351 roads under mixed or commercial land-use category.

The resolution, moved by AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, stated that the “unjustified” sealing is a direct consequence of the “negligence and inefficiency” of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and municipal corporations.

“The ongoing sealing drive in various markets has wreaked havoc among the traders and has left thousands of workers unemployed... This House strongly condemns the use of force and brutalities committed on innocent traders; and demands that the ongoing sealing in various markets of Delhi be immediately stopped and de-seal the already sealed shops,” the resolution, passed with voice vote, stated.

The House further resolved that the Central government should “take all possible steps”, including bringing a new bill/amending existing laws in the ongoing budget session of Parliament to halt the sealing drive with immediate effect.

Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta and BJP MLA from Rajouri Garden Manjinder Singh Sirsa questioned the AAP government for not introducing a bill to give relief to the traders. “When it came to allocate land for your party office, you passed a bill. Why haven’t you done the same for the sealing drive?” Sirsa asked.

In reply, Kejriwal said passing a bill would not yield any result as the DDA and municipal corporations do not come under the city administration. The chief minister told Vijender Gupta that he was “deeply saddened” by the BJP’s refusal to attend Tuesday’s all-party meeting to discuss the sealing drive.

The BJP leader replied that he decided to not attend the meeting as it was held at Kejriwal’s residence. Gupta said this in reference to the alleged assault on chief secretary Anshu Prakash by some AAP MLAs last month which had also happened at the CM’s residence.

In a lighter note, Kejriwal then invited Gupta for a meeting at “any other place” to discuss the sealing issue.

During the discussion, Gupta also charged the AAP dispensation of not holding prominent lawyers to effectively put a strong case against the sealing drive in the Supreme Court. Responding to Gupta’s accusation, Kejriwal said, “The Delhi government has appointed prominent lawyers. But, if the leader of opposition has any name, the government will go ahead with it.”

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 18:43 IST