Questions the right to grant provisional regularisation without prior scrutiny or verification of their existence

Delhi Lokayukta Manmohan Sarin has issued a show-cause notice to the Delhi Government seeking a clear answer as to whether provisional regularisation certificates could have been granted to unauthorised colonies without verification of their existence or any kind of scrutiny. The poser has come at a very inconvenient time for the Delhi Government since the Municipal Corporation of Delhi poll process has already begun.

In the order passed on March 15 in an inquiry being conducted on a complaint filed by Arun Rai and Rambir Singh Bidhuri regarding three nonexistent colonies – namely Abul Fazal Enclave, Radha Krishan Vihar and Kotla Mahi Gram Extension – the Lokayukta has also demanded to know the purpose of recommendations made by the Delhi Government to the Central Government for amendment in regulations and the object of issuance of provisional regularisation certificates.

The issue of grant of provisional regularisation certificates to the unauthorised colonies under a scheme brought out by the Delhi Government before the Assembly elections in 2008 has been mired in controversy ever since the issue of non-existent colonies has come to light.

It is also pertinent to note that in a separate inquiry being conducted by the Lokayukta on a complaint by former Delhi BJP president Harshvardhan, it was revealed that the Chief Minister had sought amendment in the regulations so as to provide for grant of provisional regularisation certificates to unauthorised colonies.

The reason given was that the people living in these colonies would be assured that their habitats would not be demolished and they would be able to enjoy peaceful living. This was avowedly done to give protection and reassurance to the residents of unauthorised colonies who were living in threat of demolition despite the scheme of regularisation being applicable to their colonies.

Noting that a provisional certificate is issued pending the grant of the final and normally after the basic eligibility criteria has been satisfied, in Delhi's case, the Lokayukta noted that the Government took a U-turn when scores of unauthorised colonies, which were granted provisional certificates of regularisation, turned out to be non-existent.

It was also revealed that many colonies were granted these certificates on the basis of forged or fake documents. When allegations were levelled against the political leaders and Government officers, the Delhi Government took the stand that PRCs were mere acknowledgement of receipt of application from the RWA of the unauthorised colony and did not confer any right or title on them.

In an inquiry conducted by him into three non-existent Colonies, the Divisional Commissioner had indicted the officials of the Department of Urban Development, especially the Unauthorised Colonies Cell. These conclusions, however, did not find any favour with the Delhi Government.

But now the Delhi Lokayukta has taken the matter forward and his query to the Delhi Government is expected to make it take a clear stand on the issue of verification of the existence of colonies before grant of PRCs.

The Lokayukta's query is very direct and the Delhi Government has primarily to choose between stating whether grant of PRC was an assurance that habitats of people living in unauthorised construction would not be demolished and they would enjoy peaceful living or if it was a mere receipt of an application without having any legal effect.

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