Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Jahangirpuri Demolition: Supreme Court stay to continue until further orders, next hearing in 2 weeks

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The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai, heard the case related to the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri at 11 am today. “The Court said that they will take serious view on the fact that the court order was not followed and demolition continued yesterday.

The court has issued notice in all petitions, it said that the Status quo has to be maintained, while the matter shall be heard after two weeks.

The court said “Demolitions halted, and the Supreme Court  ‘will take serious view of all action after status quo order was passed’ 

The Jahangirpuri area was hit by violence a few day back, yesterday it witnessed seven bulldozers razing the parts of several structures, which also includes gate of a worship place. The Supreme Court had already put a stay on the demolition drive yet it went on for two hours despite the directions at 11 am that status quo be maintained.

The demolition drive led to a political row, as many leaders condemned the drive , calling it an attack against a minority community. The BJP however claimed that the charge is false, and the action was purely on the basis of illegal construction.

NDMC also has issued a notice stating that this was not any political move as these are routine exercises which happen to demolish illegal construction and enchroachment. It further mentioned that similar routine exercise in the same area was conducted on April 11 as well

During the Court interaction

For removing stalls, chairs, tables etc do you need a “bulldozer” asked the Supreme Court taking a stern view on removal of encroachments from Jahangirpuri area by the North MCD, while responding submission of SG that it doens’t require service of notice for removal. 

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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said,

“Milords are right that when a building is to be removed a notice should be issued. And the notices were issued. The Government is also concerned about maintaining the law. Let an individual come and say that a notice was not issued.”

Justice L Nageswara Rao directed the Centre to file its response to the plea and to maintain status quo till next date of hearing and list the matter after two weeks. “You have to file a counter affidavit to their pleas and petitioners will file affidavit whether notice was issued to them or not before demolition,” said Justice L Nageswara Rao. 

Justice L Nageswara Rao added, “We have to take a serious view about the demolition that was carried out after the information given to mayor.”

During the hearing today Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for petitioner against demolition drive in Jahangirpuri area submitted that this matter is of National Importance. 

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Justice L Nageswara Rao asked, It pertains to an area why National importance?

Dave replied, it is because a particular section of society is targeted. It’s impossible what happened. Is bulldozer an instrument of state policy. This was not done in 2002 then why now? This is the warning constitutional framers gave us, they spoke about this eventuality. 
SG Tushar Mehta interjected and said, Argue on facts as I have to reply to the same. 

Justice Rao said, Let him argue Mr Solicitor. 
Dave argued, they (North MCD) without giving any notice, demolished large number of homes and shops, it impacted the certain section of society.

How can a BJP leader write to NDMC to demolish and the machinery begins demolition. They have to give notice of 15 days. Is this the way we are going to survive in democracy. It’s without a “rule of law”.

They started demolition at 9 am because they knew we were going to mention matter in SC at 10:30AM. They continued even after the status-quo order was passed by the CJI. This affects rule of law and there will be no democracy left.

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Dave, then read the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, saying that there are around 800 unauthorised colonies housing more than 50 lakh citizens, in Delhi and you (North MCD) have picked just one colony.

He further said that “You will not touch Sainik Farms and South Delhi, where every other home would be unauthorised, but you will come to demolish homes of poor people?

Dave said, “Right to life” includes “Right to Shelter”. It is inconceivable in a democratic country. We are living like living in a “Jungle”.

Dave further stated that we have filed a affidavit, attaching letter of BJP leader wrote to MCD. “Anti social elements done stone pelting on Hanuman Jayanti procession, there unauthorized structure and construction should be immediately bulldozerd…”

Justice Rao asked Mr Sibal, do u want to say anything? 
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal argued on another petition filed by organisation Jamiat. He said, “One thing in perspective…I think encroachment is a serious problem not just in Delhi but whole India, and demolishing property of Muslim community only.

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Justice Rao asked what are your prayers? 
Encroachment is not limited to A Community and B Community. It’s not like you can target a B community only. It’s not a forum politics. It’s to show that this country is still governed by rule of law.

Sibal said we want stay on demolition. 
Bench said, “We are not staying demolitions in this country.

”Sibal replied, I mean this area in particular. 
Bench said, we will see. 
Sibal replied, not with bulldozer. 
Bench said, Demolitions are always with bulldozer. 

Sibal further stated that, Mr Shamshad has sent a WhatsApp message to NorthMCD Mayor. 
Js Rao asked, What time it was communicated? 
Sibal replied, the Apex Court Order was passed at 10:45 AM. And it was duly communicated. 
Dave said, Mayor has given a statement to media that order will be complied with but he complied with the order at 12:45PM. 

The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that both pleas are by Jamiat ulama-i-Hind and this is what happens when an organisation comes here. In Jahangirpuri the drive to remove the encroachments on footpath etc began on January 19, in February, then in March and then in April 19 it took place to remove garbage etc.

I will show you instances when notice is not required and illegal structures were given the notice. Traders have moved HC last year and HC had itself ordered demolition.

This is why the organisations have come here and not individuals since they have to show the proof and it can be seen notices was issued. In Khargone demolition, 88 affected parties were Hindus and 26 were Muslims. Khargone orders were passed for demolition in 2021 and 2022. this has become like a pattern that is why instead of individuals approaching the court, organisations jump in.

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Justice Rao asked, Demolition yesterday was of only stalls, chairs, tables etc?
Justice BR Gavai said, to remove these you need a bulldozer?

SG Tushar Mehra replied, we have the photographs, you are correct bulldozers are needed for buildings. Here notices were issued. 

Justice Rao asked, Mr Hegde were you issued notice before your establishment was demolished?
Sr Adv Hegde replied, No. 
Senior Advocate Hegde appeared for a shop owner, whose shop was demolished without any notice. 

SG replied that they were provided notice. He said, “Milords are right that when a building is to be removed a notice should be issued. And the notices were issued. The Government is also concerned about maintaining the law. Let an individual come and say that a notice was not issued.”

Justice L Nageswara Rao ordered, “We want affidavits from the petitioner on the notices if served and counter affidavits and till then status quo order will continue.”

The Court also said, “We will take a serious view of the demolition which was carried out even after supreme court orders even after NDMC Mayor was informed. We will take that up later.”
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that Statement which are made that one community is targeted, is factually “incorrect”.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind against North Delhi Municipal Corporation, for its special joint encroachment removal programme in Jahangirpuri where clashes broke out during a Hanuman Jayanti procession.

The CJI NV Ramana yesterday, had directed to maintain status quo.
The second connected plea filed by same organization Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind seeking pan India directions in the backdrop of similar incidents that took place in other BJP ruled states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat etc.

Filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India the plea seeks issuance a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ to the Union of India and all the states that no lasting precipitative action be taken against any accused in any criminal proceedings. It is further prayed that direction be issued that residential accommodation cannot be demolished as a punitive measure.

It is also prayed that it be declared that any commercial property cannot be demolished as a punitive measure. It is also prayed that directions be issued for providing training to police personnel in handling communal riots and situations where populations become restive. Lastly it is also prayed that it be directed that ministers, legislators and anybody unconnected with the criminal investigation to be restrained from apportioning criminal responsibility regarding criminal action publicly or through any official communication until determination by a criminal court.

Another plea has been filed by politician Brinda Karat, a former Rajya Sabha Member against highly illegal and inhumane action of the Respondents demolishing residential and small shops / livelihood buildings of the people in total violation of principles of natural justice, statutes and the constitution under the guise of special joint encroachment removal action programme.

The Supreme Court asked MCD as to what time was the order communicated to them? Advocate Dushyant Dave said that

“The authorities themselves spoke to the media at 11 am about the Supreme Court order, yet they continued the demolition. Representing the victims of the drive, Sanjay Hegde said “I told them about the Supreme Court order, yet they continued with the demolition.”   

Another allegation that came forth in the court room was that one community is being targeted was rejected by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who rubbished the claim saying if this was true, how can  demolition drives in Khargone area of MP be different. He further added that in MP, 88 of those affected are Hindus.Tushar Mehta further said “IT pains me , and I am sorry but I have to bifurcate as I am compelled to”

Lawyer Dushyant Dave said while speaking to court that the harm has already set in. Incase of any demolition a reasonable opportunity has to be given. Now that the houses are demolished and the shops turned to debris who is responsible? CAN THIS BE UNDONE??“

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