NEW DELHI: Observing that more than a quarter of Delhi would be demolished if all illegal constructions were razed, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday that such constructions could be regularized if they are now up to current standards and that the premises which have been sealed could be unsealed after imposing a sentence on their owners.
A panel of Judges Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh said these buildings, which are likely to be legalized, should be legalized and the rest should be demolished.
The bench said all concerned residents of Delhi, who claim that their constructions are up to current standards, can approach the SC appointed oversight committee and the government committee headed by Delhi’s chief secretary for unsealing. of their premises. The court said it would rule on their plea after hearing the opinion of the committees.
“They have to be given time to comply and if they don’t comply, demolition has to be done. If they are capable of regularization, the constructions must be regularized in cases where they were previous violators but do not violate the standards now. A realistic view should be taken. If it is possible to bring such constructions back to current standards, sanctions should be imposed and regularize them,” the bench said.
The court, however, made it clear that illegal constructions should be demolished if they cannot be regularized and said there should be no sympathy for law breakers and also blamed the government for not enforcing law over the years, which has led to mass unauthorized destruction and illegal construction across the nation’s capital.
The court questioned the Center for repeatedly issuing orders to protect illegal constructions and said the government should look after the whole of Delhi and not just Central Delhi.
The court took up the sealing case after a two-year hiatus and is now weighed down by numerous claims from aggrieved residents whose shops and premises have been sealed. The case has been pending in the Supreme Court for 37 years and it started when environmentalist MC Mehta filed a petition in 1985. The court said the case could not go on forever and the proceedings should be concluded in a progressive way.
Lead lawyer ADN Rao, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, argued that the court should first consider the review plea seeking reconsideration of its verdict that it was found that the oversight committee appointed by the court was not empowered to take action for sealing and demolition for unauthorized constructions and its role was limited to combating the misuse of residential premises for commercial purposes.
Rao said many people filed claims after SC’s verdict and sought to unseal unauthorized construction on the grounds that the committee had no authority to take action.
Clipping the Wings Oversight Committee, which was appointed by the Supreme Court in 2006 and has undertaken a sealing campaign against unauthorized construction in addition to action against the misuse of residential premises for commercial purposes and l encroachment on public land, the Supreme Court in August 2020 found that the committee never had the power to act against residential premises.