STF actions amounting to torturing, harassing Delhiites even over minor repairs, allege Councillors
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has decided to approach the Lieutenant-Governor to express concern over the “ramifications” of the Special Task Forces set up for each sub-division to crack down on unauthorised constructions and curb rampant violations related to building by-laws in the city.
The decision was taken at the meeting of the civic body's Standing Committee on Wednesday.
The matter came up for discussion when councillors raised objections alleging that the actions of the Special Task Force were amounting to “torturing and harassing ordinary Delhiites over minor repairs carried out in their houses”.
The STFs for each sub-division in the districts are empowered to act under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, register police cases, and even act against law enforcers if they are found disobeying orders.
MCD Standing Committee chairman Yogender Chandolia said: “We would be seeking an appointment with the L-G to present our concern on how the STF is affecting Delhiites as the number of FIRs against them is increasing on account of the so-called unauthorised constructions.”
Municipal Commissioner K. S. Mehra said the task force was originally set up in 1996 under the then L-G and has continued over the years. The force is led by Sub-Division Magistrate (Revenue) as convenor and other members comprise the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Deputy Director (Delhi Development Authority), Zonal Assistant Commissioner of MCD, Executive Engineer of PWD and the Block Development Officer of the Panchayat Department of the State. There is also the scope for induction of representatives of other land-owning agencies such as L&DO when required.
According to Mr. Mehra, the protection given to certain unauthorised colonies existing before February 7, 2007, under the Special Laws has been extended to December 2011. “However, there is an additional condition that stipulates that any new construction carried out in entire Delhi including these special protected categories too would be liable to face action under the STF if carried out illegally,” he added.
Clarifying further on whether building repairs would also come under the STFs purview, Mr. Mehra said: “Building repairs are allowed as per MCD's own building by-laws which cannot be substituted with the STF's jurisdiction. The two are not to be confused.”
On the issue of delay in sanction of building plans of rural and urbanised villages in Delhi, Mr. Mehra said: “As per the Central Government's notification issued in January 2011, a building plan in a village can be sanctioned only when its layout plans are ready. So at present, we are still in the process of readying the layout plans and till that process is complete no building plans of villages can be sanctioned.”
However, reacting to this statement the councillors urged the administration to provide permission to villagers for construction of their houses during the interim period till the layout plans are readied.
According to the MCD, there are about 355 urban and rural villages in Delhi.