Centre to file reply in SC justifying provision protecting sealing

[] While stating that it had nothing to do with the sealing of properties, the centre has told the SC that it would submit a reply justifying the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006, which protects unauthorised constructions from sealing

The centre, on February 15, 2018, told the Supreme Court that it would submit a reply, ‘justifying’ a special 2006 law, which protects unauthorised construction from being sealed in Delhi.

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The centre told a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that it had nothing to do with the sealing, as it was for the municipal agencies in Delhi to look into it.

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Additional Solicitor General (ASG) ANS Nadkrani, representing the centre, told the bench that entire documents of the case was not available and they would file an affidavit, after looking into all the details. “I have a draft but I have to see all the documents. I do not want to file a sketchy affidavit,” Nadkarni said, adding, “We have nothing to do with the sealing. We are concerned with the law. Sealing is for the municipal agencies to look into.”

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Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said the issue was of 2006 and it was strange that after 12 years, the centre wants to file an affidavit. To this, the bench observed, “According to the union of India, the Supreme Court is responsible for the delay”. The bench, while asking the centre to file a reply in three weeks, posted the matter for hearing on April 2, 2018.

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“The ASG says that he will collect the papers from the amicus and file an affidavit justifying the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006, within a period of three weeks from today. We make it clear that no further time will be granted,” the bench noted in its order. “For a proper management of the cases, we make it clear that we do not propose to hear any counsel on behalf of the petitioners. If there are any submissions that they wish to make, they may do so through the amicus. We will, of course, hear the union of India, the DDA (Delhi Development Authority), the Delhi government and the corporations,” the bench said.

The bench would deal with the issue of validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations. The apex court had earlier said that the authorities do not appear to have carried out their statutory duties, in preventing illegal construction in Delhi. It had, in December 2017, observed that rule of law over sanction to construct buildings had ‘completely broken down’ in Delhi while expressing concern over rampant illegal construction.

The apex court had also ordered the restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee, to identify and seal such offending structures. The monitoring committee, comprising KJ Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner, Bhure Lal, chairman of EPCA and major general (retd) Som Jhingan, was set up in March 24, 2006, by the apex court. The court had earlier said it had asked the committee not to seal any premises from 2012, expecting the authorities to carry out their statutory duties.

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