Civic body officials had reportedly stalled his enquiry into the land grabbing by a media house

Lokayukta Manmohan Sarin has taken strong exception to yet another attempt by the Delhi Development Authority officials to stall his enquiry into a case of land grabbing by a media house.

In a recent order, Mr. Justice Sarin said his attention has been drawn to a note of DDA Principal Commissioner (Land Development, Housing and CWG) T. Shrinidhi, which stated that “Lokayukta, if approved, can be informed that the civil court has granted interim stay and in all probability he is estoppabled from continuing with his hearings.”

Responding to the official’s note, the Lokayukta said: “It does not fall within the domain of the Principal Commissioner or for that matter any of the officials of the DDA to advise the quasi judicial statutory authority regarding its jurisdiction. In case the DDA is so advised they are free to raise objection regarding the continuance of proceedings.”

The Lokayukta said the complainant in the case, Rajesh Garg, had come to the forum alleging that on account of the patronage and protection of two ‘public functionaries’ public land admeasuring approximately 5,500 sq. metres had been encroached upon and was being enjoyed by the media house for the last over two decades without any action being taken by the statutory authorities, namely the DDA and the Public Works Department.

Mr. Justice Sarin said it was during the proceedings that he had enquired from the DDA as to their plans for getting the encroachment removed to fulfil their statutory obligations.

“Lokayukta is well within the line of his public duty, while conducting an enquiry against ‘public functionaries’, especially where the allegation is that on account of the influence of the ‘public functionaries’ the statutory authorities were not discharging their functions, to enquire as to what action was contemplated by the statutory authorities to fulfil their statutory obligations.”

However, he noted that action by the DDA first got deferred and delayed in January this year on the plea that the instructions of the Lieutenant-Governor issued regarding unauthorised colonies slated for regularisation were also applicable in the instant case.

The Lokayukta noted that action was delayed further by DDA on account of taking approval of the Lieutenant-Governor despite his office clarifying the position.

“It is not understandable while on the one hand it is the case of the DDA itself that the media house has forged the lease deed and has encroached upon the public land as is evident from their communication/complaint to the SHO, yet on the other hand proposed demolition action was delayed on the plea of seeking approval of the L-G,” the Lokayukta observed.

Pulling up DDA for its conduct, Mr. Justice Sarin, who has himself earlier served as Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, said: “Statutory authority namely the DDA would do well to focus and concentrate its energies on discharging its statutory duties and by promptly and effectively defending the civil litigation wherein stay has been obtained, without written statement being filed by the DDA. Let the injunction be not continued in default.”

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