Delhi administration might soon begin the drive to seal unauthorised construction in Delhi with the apex court on Wednesday saying it would revive the court-appointed monitoring committee to identify and seal illegal buildings as government authorities had failed to stem the cropping up of illegal structures in the city.
“Prima facie, it appears to us that the rule of law with regard to sanction and construction of buildings in Delhi seems to have completely broken down,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said and decided to examine each case of unauthorised construction individually. “In view of the failure of the statutory authorities to check unauthorised constructions and its misuse in Delhi, we also propose to restore the powers of the monitoring committee to identify and seal unauthorised premises/construction,” it added.
In March 2006, the Supreme Court had ordered sealing of all unauthorised construction in the city and appointed a monitoring committee to conduct and monitor the sealing drive. The committee members included former Election Commission advisor K J Rao, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority chairman Bhure Lal and Major General Som Jhingan. The court had also asked for sealing of residential premises that were being used for commercial purposes.
The sealing drive went on till January 2012 when the court asked the committee to halt the drive as the government had brought the 2021 Master Plan to regularise some of the illegal constructions. However, the committee was asked to be on the lookout for unauthorised constructions and continue filing reports on their status in the city.
After going through the committee’s reports which projected a dismal picture of unauthorised construction, the bench of Justices Lokur and Gupta expressed concern over the failure of government authorities to take action against property owners and proposed to restore power to the monitoring panel to carry out a fresh sealing drive.
“On January 3, 2012, this court expected, hoped and believed that the authorities in Delhi would carry out their statutory duties and therefore passed an order to the effect that the monitoring committee shall not further seal any premises. The hope, expectation and trust that this court reposed in the concerned officers seems to have been completely belied as is apparent from the reading of the reports,” the bench said. It added that the authorities allowed an unauthorised colony, Sai Kunj in Mehrauli, to be built on agricultural land. It summoned the commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation to be present before it to explain why no action was taken against developers of the colony.
The court also sought assistance from Centre in deciding the case.