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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

SC comes down hard on bid by BJP leaders to stop sealing in Delhi

Apex court slaps contempt notice on two BJP leaders; questions authorities on amendments proposed to Delhi Master Plan

delhi Updated: Feb 09, 2018 23:57 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times
A sealed office in N- Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi on Wednesday.
A sealed office in N- Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi on Wednesday.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

The Supreme Court on Friday issued contempt notices to Delhi BJP MLA OP Sharma and party’s municipal councillor Gunjan Gupta for preventing sealing of unauthorised commercial units in northeast Delhi’s Shahdara zone and asked the Delhi Police to take necessary action against the two “without fear and being influenced in any manner.”

The court also asked Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the municipal corporations and the Delhi government to inform SC within a week whether any environment impact assessment has been conducted before proposing amendments in the Delhi Master Plan 2021. The DDA has recently proposed bringing uniform floor area ratio (FAR) for shop-cum-residence plots and complexes at par with residential plots, a move that would give respite to traders facing the threat of sealing.

A bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked BJP leaders Sharma and Gupta to be personally present in the court on March 6, the next date of hearing. The court also directed the Delhi Police to provide security to the monitoring committee members “so that they are in a position to carry out their duties even if the statutory authorities do not deem it appropriate to carry out their duty in accordance with law.”

The notices were issued after senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, assisting the court in the sealing case, informed the bench about the gathering that was called by Sharma and Gupta to allegedly stall the drive, which is taking place on the orders of the apex court. The monitoring committee is a Supreme Court-appointed panel and any attempt to stop them from implementing court directive is contempt, Kumar submitted.

Photographs and a video was taken of the protest and was uploaded by the monitoring committee on its website. A complaint was also lodged at the Anand Vihar police station against the two lawmakers for preventing authorities from carrying out their statutory duties.

Kumar urged the court to initiate contempt action against the alleged contemnors. “As far as the offences under the IPC are concerned, we have no doubt that Delhi Police will take necessary action without fear and favour and without being influenced in any manner whatsoever,” the court said.

“Since the monitoring committee is functioning under the directions of this court, any interference in its functions will amount to contempt of court,” the bench said, accepting Kumar’s submission.

On being told that the DDA proposes to bring changes in Delhi’s Master Plan 2021, the bench asked the land-owning authority, civic agencies and the Delhi government to file an affidavit within a week and let the court know whether any study has been conducted with regard to congestion in the city. The bench also asked if Delhi Police was consulted in view of the proposed changes and whether fire safety measures have been considered and parking facilities have been taken into consideration.

The court also wants to know if the city has enough civic amenities to cater to such an expansion. “What about sewage management, power supply and drinking water facilities?” the bench asked the counsel for DDA, municipal authorities and Delhi government. Refusing to give them more time, the bench said the affidavit must also give details of any assessment has been made to ensure people living in the proposed buildings, which are sought to be made legal for commercial use, are safe and secure.

“Whether the issue of population density in Delhi said to be in the region of 1.67 crore to 2 crore has been taken into consideration; whether any information or statistics is available with the Delhi Pollution Control Board or Centre Pollution Control Board with regard to the pollution in Delhi from 2006 onwards till date, particularly when there was liberalisation in the roads notified for mixed use or a commercial use,” the bench said, seeking the information.