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Sealing in Delhi: SC slaps fine on SDMC for not filing response on time

December 07, 2018:

On Thursday, Supreme Court slapped a fine of ₹ 1 lakh on the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) for its failure to respond on time to a report by the monitoring committee on sealing about alleged violation of Master Plan of Delhi-2021 and building bylaws in motels & farm houses.

Sealing in Delhi
Sealing in Delhi

Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur also chided the NDMC chairman for not cooperating with the monitoring committee, set up by the apex court.

It noted that if any inconvenience is caused to the monitoring committee, it “is indirectly causing inconvenience to this court” and asked the chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to render all necessary assistance to the panel.

The court observed that despite the apex court’s Nov 2 order granting 15 days’ time to SDMC to respond to the committee’s report, the civic agency had not done this within the stipulated period.

“One last opportunity is granted. It is stated (by SDMC) that response is ready and will be filed within two days. The registry (of the apex court) will accept the response only upon receipt of costs of ₹ 1 lakh,” the bench, which also comprised justices Deepak Gupta & Hemant Gupta, said.

The bench made it clear to the SDMC that it has to act in accordance with law and if any circular or byelaws issued by the municipal corporation were contrary to the law, it would be the “sole responsibility” of SDMC.

In its report filed in the apex court, the monitoring committee had said that during inspection of farm houses and motels in areas, including those under the SDMC’s jurisdiction, “large scale violations in respect of misuse and unauthorized construction were noticed”.

The committee had also said that owners of several motels and farmhouses have constructed huge air-conditioned pandals/sheds in their plots without permission from either the municipal corporation or the fire department.

Master Plan 2021 is a blueprint for urban planning and expansion in the metropolis to ensure overall development. The proposed amendments were for bringing a uniform floor area ratio (FAR) for shop-cum-residential plots and complexes at par with residential plots.

FAR is the ratio of a buildings total floor area (gross floor area) to the size of the piece of land on which it is built.

During the hearing on Thursday, the bench also dealt with another report of the committee regarding posting of staff on deputation in the panel and payment of deputation allowance to them.

“The report of the monitoring committee indicates that the Chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is unfortunately not rendering due assistance to the monitoring committee thereby causing great inconvenience to the monitoring committee,” the bench said.

The court made it clear to NDMC’s chairman that the panel has been established under the directions of the top court and “if any inconvenience is caused to the monitoring committee, it is indirectly causing inconvenience to this court”.

The bench said the NDMC chairman “ought not to cause any inconvenience to this court but should comply with the directions and render all necessary assistance” to the committee.

The counsel representing NDMC told the court that he would inform the chairman about it.

The bench has posted the matter related to NDMC for hearing on Dec 10.

The court also directed the Land & Development Office (L&DO) to take steps to seal the tenements that are either being misused from residential to commercial use or having encroachments and unauthorized constructions.

Top Curt had earlier ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee to identify and seal unauthorized constructions in Delhi.

The monitoring committee, comprising K J Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner, Bhure Lal, chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, and Major General (Retd) Som Jhingan, was set up on March 24, 2006, by the court.

The top court is seized of the issue related to validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protect illegal construction from being sealed.

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