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High Court refuses to stay demolitions

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Staff Reporter

"No public interest involved in the petition filed by the Delhi MLA Prahlad Singh Sawhney"

NEW DELHI: Refusing to interfere in the ongoing demolition of unauthorised constructions in the Capital, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed as withdrawn a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an interim stay on the demolition drive launched by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) across the city simultaneously

When a Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rekha Sharma said there was no public interest involved in the petition filed by the Delhi MLA Prahlad Singh Sawhney, the latter sought permission of the Court to withdraw the petition. The Bench also observed that the MLA had no locus to interfere in the matter. At the most, the Centre could move the Court in the matter.

When the petitioner submitted that a massive demolition drive was going on, the Bench observed: "We know that only a cosmetic drive is being carried out.'' A Vacation Bench of the High Court over the last winter vacation had also refused to defer the demolition.

The Jain-Sharma Bench had on December 14 asked the civic body to carry out demolition of all unauthorised constructions in the city within six weeks and file a status report about the action taken on January 18.

The Vacation Bench had refused to interfere in the matter asking the petitioner to appear before the Jain-Sharma Bench, which is seized of the matter and has ordered the demolition, on January 3.

In the petition, Mr. Sawhney through his advocate Arun Maitri submitted that the way the December 14 order was being implemented it had caused unrest and fear among the people at large, as the local body had demolished even those unauthorised properties, which could have been regularised as they fall under the compoundable limits.

He further submitted that after the December 14 order, the Delhi Government and the Centre had shown their desire to implement the Malhotra Committee Report on building by-laws as well as finalise the Draft Master Plan 2021.

The Malhotra Committee Report, which was notified by the Union Ministry of Urban Development and Employment on 23 July 1998, has an amnesty scheme for existing violations of the Master Plan and the building bylaws, the petition said. It further submitted that the Draft Master Plan 2021 has a proposal for mix land use subject to payment of conversion charges, and it is under active consideration of the Union Govt. It seems that these facts regarding implementation of the Malhotra Committee Report and the Draft Master Plan 2021 could not be brought to the notice of the Court, the petition claimed.

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