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MCD started it all, but unhappy

This is one court case that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is not happy about despite being on the winning side.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 03:00 IST

This is one court case that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is not happy about despite being on the winning side.

Not many people know that it was an over-zealous MCD that had approached the Supreme Court on its own a few years back, seeking powers to seal commercial units operating from residential areas.

"Earlier, the MCD used to seal properties being put to illegal commercial use. However, the powers became a tool in the hands of corrupt MCD engineers to extort money from small time traders. A couple of years back, a group of harassed traders had approached the Delhi High Court challenging MCD's powers to seal properties on account of misuse," said BJP councillor Vijender Kumar Gupta. However, the MCD lost the case to the traders. The High Court had ruled that the under the provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act, the MCD does not have powers to seal a property being misused for commercial purpose.

Not the one to take things lying down, the MCD challenged the order before a division bench of the High Court but lost the case again. But MCD pursued the matter diligently and refused to give up on its rightful powers.

"The MCD approached the Supreme Court in October 2002, again challenging the High Court order. Here the MCD argued forcefully before the court making out a strong case for itself seeking restoration of its sealing rights. Their argument was that sealing powers are needed to check the growing menace of commercialisation in residential areas," said Gupta.However, as luck would have it, a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one M.C. Mehta pointing out rampant commercialisation in residential areas was filed before the top court around the same time.

"The two cases were clubbed and this is where the MCD's troubles began. After gauging the extent of residential properties being illegally misused for commercial purposes, the Supreme Court restored MCD's right to seal all residential-turned-commercial properties. The MCD has actually been caught in its own web," he said.

The MCD's 'win' has put its political bosses in trouble.

When the Supreme Court had first given indicators towards ordering sealing of all illegal commercial structures the MCD on November 28 had called a meeting to discuss a solution. However, no solutions came up, as everyone knew that the court order was in the offing.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 03:00 IST