Halting the demolition drive launched by Delhi municipal authorities in Jahangirpuri area, which witnessed communal violence last week, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked authorities to maintain status quo and said it will hear petitions challenging the demolitions on Thursday.
“Maintain status quo. List it before appropriate bench tomorrow,” ordered Chief Justice of India N V Ramana as Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave brought up the matter during mentioning hours when cases that require urgent attention are brought to the notice of the CJI.
Appearing for Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, Dave told the court that “this is completely unauthorised, unconstitutional, demolition which is now ordered in Delhi, in Jahangirpuri area, where allegedly riots took place.”
Under the Municipal Acts, notice has to be given before carrying out the demolitions, he said, adding that the drive in Jahangirpuri was being done without issuing any notice.
“Without no notice to anyone, under the Municipal Corporation Act at least 5 to 15 days notice is required, they have a right to appeal against that…,” said Dave.
He pointed out that while the demolition was planned to start at 2 pm, it had started at 9 am “knowing that we are going to mention it”.
With reports of the demolition emerging despite the SC order, Dave once again rushed to the CJI a little after 12 pm raising this.
“I’m sad. Despite the world knowing that this court passed orders, they are not stopping. It sends a terribly wrong message,” he told the court. “They say order is not communicated. Please communicate, ask the Secretary General.”
“It’s widely reported in media immediately. This is not right. We are a rule of law society,” he added.
Taking note, the CJI ordered that its order be communicated though Registrar General or Secretary General “immediately”.
“It will be late otherwise,” said Dave. “We are communicating,” responded the CJI.
In its plea, the Jamiat contended that “NDMC (North Delhi Municipal Corporation) carrying out such acts is malafide and against the process of law as has been established by the different Statutes as well as this Court of law”.
It also said that “the actions…are arbitrary and illegal as the people whose houses or establishments will be demolished have not been served any notice by the authorities” and “cause irreparable harm to the residents of the area who have been residing there for more than 3 decades and it is their only source of livelihood”.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal told the court that there is also a petition pending about similar demolition drive in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. He urged the court to list the petition also on Thursday. The court agreed to the request.