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Residential premises being used for commercial purposes to be sealed says Supreme Court

By Simran Kashyap
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    New Delhi, Nov 3: The Supreme Court has said that residential premises in Delhi which are being misused for commercial purposes should be sealed within 48 hours if their owners do not furnish permission documents or licence for running the business.

    Residential premises being used for commercial purposes to be sealed says Supreme Court

    A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, A M Khanwilkar and R Subhash Reddy observed that the Centre has adopted a "non-cooperative" approach in dealing with the issuance of advance notice to the owner of a property being misused before sealing it.

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    It took into account the suggestions given on Thursday by senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the Delhi sealing matter, that persons misusing residential premises for unauthorised activity be asked to produce the licence within 48 hours.

    "However, in the event the persons are unable to produce any permission or licence, the premises will be sealed due to the unauthorised misuse," the court had noted in its Thursday order.

    The amicus had also suggested that if the owner of the property being misused would give an undertaking, which would be video recorded, that the misuse would be stopped and he or should would file an affidavit before the concerned authority that the same would not be misused, then another 48 hours time could be given for this.

    During the hearing on Friday, the bench also dealt with the issue of joint survey of houses conducted in south Delhi area by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and the Land and Development Office (L&DO) in August.

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    Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, said that 2,354 houses were surveyed in the survey conducted in Amar colony, Motia Khan and two other areas.

    He said that report of survey would be ready within two weeks after the Diwali holidays.

    The ASG told the court that 400 houses in the areas where survey was conducted were sealed by the court-mandated monitoring committee and they should be de-sealed so that survey could be done.

    "You give the report first. Give it to the amicus also. After you will give the report, we will see," the bench said.

    The amicus told the court that monitoring committee has filed a report regarding the SDMC's policy for holding social functions in motels and also in farmhouses.

    "The monitoring committee is saying that under which law, they (SDMC) has permitted this," the amicus said.

    The bench then told the ASG, "These lands were taken from the farmers, genuine farmers. The DDA (Delhi Development Authority) had acquired these lands. Keep that in mind."

    The bench asked the SDMC to respond to the monitoring committee's report within three weeks.

    "Lot of these problems are due to the inefficiency of DDA and MCD (municipal corporation of Delhi) since 2006. These bodies blame each other. Monitoring committee is a soft target for them," the bench observed.

    The court had Thursday came down heavily on DDA and other civic agencies for keeping "their eyes closed" on misuse of residential premises for commercial purpose since 2006 and had said this has led to a "mess" in the national capital.

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    The court had in July said that a show-cause notice should be issued to the owner of building where unauthorised construction or misuse was found and 48 hours time be given to him or her respond to it as to why action be not taken.

    The committee had thereafter told the court that issuing advance notice creates more problem as people "hoodwink" with agencies which perpetuates corruption.

    The top court is dealing with the issue of validity of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protect unauthorised constructions from being sealed.

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