The apex court said that it will take serious view of the matter if it finds that the demolition drive in Delhi continued on Wednesday despite its orders to halt the drive and maintain status quo.
What SG Tushar Mehta said
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the North Delhi MC, told the court that the drive against removal of encroachments by Hindus and Muslims was carried out to remove obstruction of roads and footpaths.
He further added that it was the fifth day of the drive which was had originally started on January 19.
The 2-judge bench of Justices LN Rao and BR Gavai, hearing the case, asked whether footpath and public road encroachments by stalls required bulldozers, to which the SG said that any building which faced demolition action had been put on prior notice and the drive was carried out without breach of any law.
Mehta also added, “Let any affected person come and tell the top court whether he has not been given prior notice and whether their encroachments were demolished just because they participated in communal riots.”
He told the top court that the problem arises when an organisation like Jamiat files a petition sensationalising the issue on communal lines and then the entire political spectrum jumps in to reap mileage. “Why a single affected party has not come to the SC or filed petition in Delhi HC,” he asked.
Mehta said similarly the Khargone demolition drive has been communalised by the political parties. In Khargone, among the affected parties, 88 were Hindus and 26 were Muslims. “Yet, as in Jahangirpuri case, the political parties communalised the incident,” Mehta said.
What Dave and Sibal said
Appearing for Jamiat, senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Kapil Sibal said the bulldozer action against Muslim community must stop across India. They pleaded that the court should send a message that the rule of law prevails in India and not the whims and fancies of a political party.
When Sibal sought a complete stoppage of demolition drive across India through bulldozers, the bench of Justices Rao and Gavai said “We cannot stop demolition of illegal structures across India. And demolition of illegal structures require bulldozers.”
Bulldozers tore down several concrete and temporary structures close to a mosque in Jahangirpuri on Wednesday as part of an anti-encroachment drive by the BJP-ruled civic body, days after the northwest Delhi neighbourhood was rocked by communal violence.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday intervened twice to stop the drive after it took cognizance of the petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind against the demolition.
Civic body statement
In an official statement issued in the Wednesday evening, the civic body said that its officials removed temporary kiosks on the pavements and ramps with the help of seven JCB machines/bulldozers in the heavy police presence.
“About two kilometres of road near Kushal cinema were cleared from encroachment. As many as 25 items were seized and 20 tonnes of garbage was lifted. The encroachment was removed by the licensing department, engineering department, enforcement cell and health department of Civil Lines as a joint team,” the civic body said in the statement.
It also said that similar actions for removal of encroachments were carried out in the past as well.
(With inputs from agencies)
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