A lenient view taken as she provided a list of 60 MLAs and Councillors indulging in similar practices

Delhi Lokayukta Manmohan Sarin on Thursday told the Delhi Government to remove encroachment on public land and unauthorised construction in Jhilmil Colony or in the alternative to allot the encroached land at higher rates and in situ regularisation of unauthorised construction so that the existing laws conform to the construction on ground.

In his order, Justice Sarin also recommended token suspension for one day of area Councillor Preeti Behn upon finding her involved in unauthorised construction. He took a lenient view of her involvement as she also brought out how 60 MLAs and Councillors were involved in similar practises.

The recommendations were made in an inquiry initiated on an anonymous complaint regarding encroachment and unauthorised construction in Jhilmil Colony. The investigation had revealed unauthorized construction by Councillor Preeti Behn at A-99, Jhilmil Colony.

During the inquiry, the Lokayukta said Preeti Behn candidly admitted the unauthorised construction and encroachment on public land in the entire Jhilmil Colony including her property and took the defence that the original size of the plots allotted to the refugees by the State Slum Department has lost its meaning in the past four to five decades. She alleged that unauthorised construction had been carried out with the knowledge of MCD officials.

During the proceedings, the Lokayukta said the Councillor tried to wriggle out of the inquiry by selling her house. She also raised the plea of hostile discrimination claiming that she was a lone harassed woman who was not having any place of residence.

In the meantime, MCD issued “stop work” notices for premises No. A-99 and B-238, Jhilmil Colony and the unauthorised construction being carried out there was stopped.

Interestingly, averring to the scale of wrongdoing in the Capital city, Preeti Behn also provided a list of about 60 MLAs and Councillors whose properties she claimed were constructed on encroached land or were built in an unauthorised way. This also resulted in initiation of action against these “public functionaries”.

Holding Preeti Behn guilty of violating the norms of conduct, Justice Manmohan Sarin said: “The Municipal Councillors, who are often referred to as City Fathers, are expected to be role models for compliance with the municipal laws. There can thus be no excuse for the said Councillors themselves indulging in unauthorized constructions and encroachments, on the plea that the same was widely prevalent. A case of violation of norms of conduct in terms of Section 2 (i) (b) is clearly made out against Preeti Behn on the basis of her own admission”.

However, considering the personal circumstances of Preeti Behn pertaining to her raising construction since she did not posses any adequate residence, death of her husband, the premises being already sealed and her yeoman service in providing particulars of 60 MLAs (including Ministers) and Councillors in Delhi having unauthorised construction in their properties, Justice Sarin took a lenient view and recommended her token suspension for one day from the House.

‘Clarify stand'

The Lokayukta also asked the Commissioner, MCD, and Chief Secretary of Delhi Government to give their stand regarding removal of encroachment on public land and unauthorised construction or whether there was any scheme for their regularisation by payment of fine or compounding fee or sale of encroached land at market rate.

To this, the Delhi Government replied that there was no scheme under consideration for sale of encroached land to occupants or regularisation of the same and that the aspect of unauthorised construction, encroachment and their removal were to be dealt with by the MCD and DDA.

Taking recourse to the principle, “implement the rules or change the rules”, Justice Manmohan Sarin recommended “removal of encroachments upon the government/public land and demolition of structures built thereon and thereafter, regularisation of the compoundable structures and heights as permissible under the norms of Master Plan for Delhi 2021 or modified standard plans as applicable, within a stipulated time frame, say of six months.”

  • Councillor candidly admitted illegal construction on public land in the entire Jhilmil Colony

  • Alleged that unauthorised construction had been carried out with the knowledge of MCD officials