New Delhi, Apr 24: The Supreme Court prohibited any further construction not in confirmity with the building bye laws in 1,797 unauthorised colonies in Delhi and questioned the authorities' intent in regularising such colonies having illegal constructions.
The apex court, while observing that there cannot be any area in Delhi where there was no "rule of law", directed the Centre to immedietly set up a special task force (STF) to oversee enforcement of laws regarding unauthorised constructions, and asked it to remove encroachments from public roads, public streets and the areas meant for pedestrians.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, while refusing to vacate the stay at this stage on the proposed amendments in the Delhi Master Plan-2021, also sought details and figures on the status of groundwater level in the national capital since 2000 onwards. "We direct that there should not be any further construction in any unauthorised colonies and public land...," the bench said.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said the building bye laws do not apply to constructions in unauthorised constructions, which has led to haphazard constructions in Delhi and nothing has been done despite apex court's 2007 judgement on this issue.
"Any construction going on today in unauthorised colonies that are not in confirmity with the building bye laws should be stopped. They cannot become lawless. The situation today is that there is lawlessness in these colonies," he told the bench. Kumar said such constructions in unauthorised colonies put a strain on civic amenities like roads, sewage and electricity supply and by virtue of extension of legislations protecting such buildings from being sealed, rampant illegal constructions were going on. "At least, even if they want to regularise these unauthorised colonies, there should be some sanctity," he said. To this, the bench asked the authorities, "The order was passed in 2007. What have you done on it 10 years down the line? You can file an affidavit that you do not need the rule of law to prevail in Delhi".
"On the one hand, you have colonies that are authorised. They have to follow all the norms and bye laws. On the other, you have unauthorised colonies and they are not following any law because you have done nothing. "By regularising them (unauthorised colonies), you will say that whatever illegal they have done, will be regularised," the bench observed, adding, "you cannot have an area where there is no rule of law. Here, there are over 1,700 colonies". Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, representing the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), said building bye laws would be implemented in such colonies before they are regularised. "The regularisation will be done as per the laws and building bye laws. Certificates, like fire, have to be obtained for regularisation of the existing buildings," he said.
The amicus said that out of a total of 1,797 unauthorised colonies, 1,218 have been issued provisional regularisation certificate and authorities must tell the court as to how many acres of government land, on which unauthorised constructions have come up, have been taken back by the authorities. He said that further constructions in unauthorised colonies should be stopped immediately since innocent persons were spending money on them.
The ASG urged the bench to vacate the stay on proposed amendements in the 2021 Master Plan saying several things have to be done as per the proposals in it. "First of all, you show us your bonafide," the bench said. During the hearing, the amicus also raised the issue of constitution of special task force and said the concerned government had not done their work and not followed the law. The bench was apprised by the DDA that around 27.02 acres of public land have been freed by the authority since April 1 this year.
The court asked the DDA to file an affidavit giving full details of these freed public land and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks. ASG A N S Nadkarni, representing the Centre, told the bench that nodal officers of the police would be appointed in all districts of Delhi to deal with the issue related to providing protection to members of the court-appointed monitoring committee in carrying out sealing drive.
The bench also told a senior officer of Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), who was present in the court during the hearing, to give in a tabular form the details regarding level of ground water in Delhi so that it could examine whether the level has depleted or risen. The Centre had earlier said it has proposed to set up a special task force to oversee the enforcement and implementation of laws to deal with unauthorised construction and encroachment in Delhi after consulting all stakeholders. The top court is dealing with the issue related to validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protect unauthorised construction from being sealed.