A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Yogesh Khanna asked the authorities not to merely rely on technology but also consider the census data of the area of several years from 1991 onwards to ascertain who was living there till 1993.
"Let us not behave like Tughlaqs," the bench said while asking the authorities to follow the procedure as per law for demolishing the encroachments in and around the fort, built in 1321 AD by Tughlaq dynasty founder Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq.
"We have to preserve the fort, but it has to be done in a methodical manner," it said.
The apex court in February 2016, while declaring the entire Tughlaqabad Fort as protected, had directed the Archaeological Survey of India to ensure that only those residing there till 1993 are allowed to remain.
The high court, had thereafter ordered the authorities to carry out an aerial survey of the area and compare it with the pre-1993 maps of the area to identify fresh constructions and encroachments.
The bench today said that "over-reliance on science and technology is not correct" as people who were living there before 1993 may have improved or renovated their homes and these might look like new encroachments when older maps are compared with the latest aerial survey images.
It asked the revenue authorities to carry out a physical survey of the existing structures in the area over a continuous period of two-three days and take photographs.
The court also asked them to side by side also look into the census data of the years 1991, 2001 and 2011, gaon sabha records, list of house numbers and then determine which structures need to be demolished.
It asked the ASI, Delhi's revenue department, police, the municipal corporation, the DDA and the local residents' body to hold a meeting to arrive at a plan of action.
It asked them to also consider the aspects of imposing control norms, like colour or design, with regard to existing structures there as well as rehabilitation of those whose houses could be encroached.
The bench told the authorities to file a report after taking the steps suggested by the court and listed the matter for hearing on May 24.
The court had earlier prohibited all land transactions and building activities in the area.
It had also held that no manufacturing or industrial activity would be permissible in the area.
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