Staff Reporter

"The State has abdicated its duty" in allowing unauthorised constructions across Delhi, says High Court

NEW DELHI: Observing that "the State has abdicated its duty'', the Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into alleged nexus between Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) engineers and officials and their political bosses for allowing unauthorised constructions to come up across the Capital.

Pulling up MCD for adopting dilatory tactics in demolition of unauthorised constructions and taking action against engineers who were found guilty of abetting and conniving in the mushrooming of illegal structures in the city, the High Court also ordered registration of preliminary inquiries with immediate effect against all 96 MCD engineers who had been held guilty in departmental inquiries.

A Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rekha Sharma ordered the CBI Director to constitute a special task force (STF) to probe the charges against these officials. The Bench asked the Director to appoint an official not below the rank of joint director to head the STF.

It further directed the investigating agency to submit a preliminary report to the Court about the progress of the investigations within a month.

As for MCD officials who are perceived to have amassed huge assets by allowing unauthorised constructions but no action has been initiated against them, the Bench directed the MCD Commissioner to file a status report in the Court within four weeks.

The Bench also castigated the civic body for not cooperating with the Court Commissioner when he sought cooperation of its deputy commissioners to gather details about unauthorised constructions zone-wise. The Bench also gave a strong hint at monitoring the investigations on a regular basis. Earlier, the Bench began the hearing with the observation that the civic body was not complying with Court orders for demolition of unauthorised constructions in the city and was going soft on its guilty officials.

When counsel for the civic body informed the Court that his client had dismissed 17 executive engineers for abetting unauthorised constructions, the Bench asked: "What about assistant engineers and junior engineers?" Counsel for the civic body defended the slowing down of the demolition exercise on the ground that the civic body had become short-staffed following orders for sealing of commercial premises in residential areas by the Supreme Court.

He submitted that MCD was finding it difficult to carry out the twin tasks of demolition and sealing due to pressure on the civic body staff. To deal with the shortage of staff, the Bench suggested to MCD to outsource the job to unemployed and retired engineers.

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