Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee accused of ‘expanding its territory on its own’

The Urban Development Ministry and the Delhi Development Authority has accused the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, set up in 2006 to identify unauthorised structures and check misuse of residential properties in Delhi, of “expanding its territory on its own”.

Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the “monitoring committee has on its own expanded its own territory and started sealing residential premises without prior notice”.

Mr. Mehta criticised the monitoring committee of showing the “audacity” to criticise a Supreme Court judgment of August 14. The judgment had concluded that the monitoring committee was acting in excess of its powers.

The 70-page judgment in August, pronounced by a three-judge Bench headed by Justice (now retired) Arun Mishra, had found that the committee had no authorisation to seal private residential premises not used for commercial purposes in the National Capital.

The Constitution mandates that a person can be deprived of property and right of residence only in the manner prescribed by law, the court had noted.

The judgment was based on a challenge to a report submitted by the committee on the sealing of residential buildings in Vasant Kunj and Rajokari. It had said the committee usurped statutory powers while directing the demolition of these buildings.

Mr. Mehta said the committee has consistently tried to convey to the court that none of the local bodies do any work, that they were “hand-in-glove” with builders.

However, Mr. Mehta said, the authorities had already set up a task force. He argued that the sealing of residential buildings was beyond the jurisdiction of the monitoring committee.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who withdrew as amicus curiae at the end of the hearing, countered that review petitions have been filed against the August judgment.

“Unauthorised constructions are a source of pollution. Haphazard growth creates more problems,” Mr. Kumar reasoned.

The monitoring committee, comprising K.J. Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner; Bhure Lal, Chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority; and Major General (Retd) S.P. Jhingon, was set up on March 24, 2006.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 7:02:10 PM |

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