The Supreme Court on Monday criticized the Central government and other authorities over their inability to check the construction of illegal structures in national capital and asked it to justify its stand supporting laws protecting unauthorised constructions.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta expressed anguish over the protest against the ongoing sealing drive in Delhi, saying there is a "complete breakdown" of law and order in the city. "You cannot go on destroying Delhi. There has to be some reason," the bench told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A.N.S. Nadkrani, appearing for the Central government.
"Tell us that there will be no 'dharnas' in Delhi. There is a complete breakdown of law and order in Delhi," it said.
The bench put questions to the Central government relating the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations, which protects unauthorised construction from being sealed in Delhi.
It asked what action has been taken on unauthorised constructions which were not protected under the law and also sought to know whether there were facilities and infrastructures like sewage, drainage, parking, green areas, schools in unauthorised colonies here and whether the residents there were paying the taxes.
The bench asked why Central government kept extending immunity to illegal constructions in Delhi, and preventing their demolition or sealing.
The government had made a statement that any unauthorised construction after January 1, 2006 will be sealed, but hundreds of such colonies have come up after that over the years, the court said, adding: "You do not implement your law and when we say do it, then there are strikes and all."
Nadkarni told the court that there were lakhs of immigrants in Delhi which creates gap between demand and supply and there were around 1,400 unauthorised colonies, housing around six lakh families. The bench, however, said there was no official data and figures available on record relating to the number of such people residing in such colonies and unauthorised structures.
As it asked Nadkarni as to when these unauthorised colonies started to come up and he said the process of data collection was going on, the court said: "From 2006 to 2018, you are still under the process? You do not have any data? You had told the Parliament in 2006 that you will take some time to give data and 12 years after that, you are telling is that you do not have the data."
In December last, while expressing concern over rampant illegal construction in Delhi, the apex court had said that the authorities do not appear to have carried out their statutory duties in preventing illegal construction and ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee to identify and seal such offending structures.
In December 2017, the union cabinet had approved the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2017, extending the immunity to illegal constructions in Delhi, and preventing their demolition or sealing till December 31, 2020.