Delhi is being reduced to a slum, thanks to rampant illegal construction, the Delhi High Court said today while ordering the setting up of an experts panel to physically inspect such properties.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar appointed former CBI director D R Karthikeyan, India Habitat Centre (IHC) Director Raj Liberhan and retired district judge Ravinder Kaur as the committee members, who will act as court commissioners.
"We are really pained to note that there appears to be no regulatory mechanism in place, no transparency at all and as a result rampant unauthorised construction is coming up all over Delhi (which) is a subject matter of multiple proceedings pending before this court," the bench said.
Despite there being regulations in place, every day such constructions are being allowed to come up, reducing Delhi not only to a slum but also becoming a hub of disease like chikungunya and dengue, the bench observed.
"It is, therefore, a high time that such construction has to be stopped immediately and the citizens have to comply with the law in place," the court said.
It said the commissioners will inspect the properties of all the three municipal bodies in the city and shall be provided the original records of the properties by the corporations.
"They will identify each of such properties and will also do a chemical analysis of the construction to determine the date on which the building was build up," the bench said.
It said they will be paid Rs one lakh as their fees by the corporations and Rs 2,000 each for every visit to the sites and asked the Delhi Police to provide them adequate security while they are visiting the properties.
The directions were issued during the hearing of a PIL by the People All India Anti Corruption and Crime Prevention Society, which had sought direction to the authorities to demolish 75 illegal constructions in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
It also sought to register case against the officials of the corporation, who had allegedly allowed such construction depsite a demolition order against them.
Taking note of this, the bench observed "It is extremely distressing that it is only after a petition is brought which is in the nature of a public interest litigation that the municipal authorities are waking up to their statutory duties and law obligations."
"It is even more disconcerting that paper documentation in the nature of show cause notice, demolition and sealing orders are being passed to create a facade of non-compliance with the requirements of the statute whereas under the shield of other documentations, rampant illegal and unauthorised construction is permitted to be continued," it added.
It asked the commissioners to file their status report within six weeks before the court.
The bench said the commissioners shall not prepare any report against the illegal construction without hearing the owners of the properties.
"Citizens must follow the law and officials must do their duty," the court said, adding that the constructions which are not in accordance with law will not be protected from demolition at any cost. It listed the matter for July 18.