Delhi HC says will hear plea but not interfere in Jahangirpuri demolition drive
Delhi Jahangirpuri violence: The Supreme Court has ordered a halt to the demolition drive and will hear the matter tomorrow.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday agreed to hear pleas against the 'anti-encroachment' drive in the national capital's Jahangirpuri area, which was rocked by violence over the weekend after two communities clashed over a Hanuman Jayanti procession. The court agreed to hear petitions against the demolition but indicated it would not interfere in the process at this stage.
Acting chief justice Vipin Sanghi asked the lawyers who pressed for urgent listing and relief to file their petitions and said, "I am not saying anything (on the demolition) but they (authorities) should be ready (with instructions)."
Sanghi also said the petitions would be heard today once they were filed, but observed 'there was nothing new' and the drive is 'already in contemplation'.
"They have acquired force now. You file it (the petitions)," he said and asked the authorities to be ready to proceed with the court's instructions.
The lawyer appearing for one of the aggrieved parties urged the court to 'protect' till 2 pm residents whose structures were to be demolished. Some had still not returned home in the aftermath of the weekend's violence, she said.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma pointed out the Supreme Court is already seized of this issue. Shortly before the High Court agreed to hear the plea the top court ordered a temporary halt.
Senior advocates Dushyant Dave, Kapil Sibal, PV Surendranath and Prashant Bhushan mentioned the matter before Chief Justice NV Ramana/
The chief justice ordered status quo said, "Let the matter be taken up tomorrow with the other (a plea, filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind)."
The BJP-ruled New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) which had ordered the demolition said it had stopped all work pending further orders from the courts.
"We have stopped our work...," Raja Iqbal Singh the NDMC mayor was quoted by news agency ANI, "We will follow the Supreme Court order and take action."
However, ANI later also reported that demolitions continued to take place for a while despite the Supreme Court order.
Nine people, including eight police personnel, were injured in clashes in Jahangirpuri during a Hanuman Jayanti procession on April 16. Delhi Police has arrested 23 people - many Muslims - so far, including two juveniles.
Five of the accused - including Mohammad Ansar, allegedly the key conspirator, and Sonu, who was seen on video firing a pistol during the clashes - face charges under the strict National Security Act.
A political blame game has erupted between the BJP and the AAP, with each accusing the other of counting Ansar as a member of its party.
Since the violence police have used drones to conduct aerial surveillance and, on Tuesday, said that the situation was peaceful and talks with a 'peace committee' were ongoing.
With input from ANI, PTI