The Supreme Court on Thursday denied the Centre's plea seeking modification of its earlier order in which the government was asked to invite suggestions for 15 days from the public before amending the Master Plan of Delhi-2021, saying authorities must appreciate that the "people of Delhi come first".
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Navin Sinha directed the Central government to "expeditiously" implement its May 15 order in letter and spirit, keeping the interest of the public of Delhi in mind.
The top court said Delhi is being "ravaged" by unauthorised encroachment and illegal constructions with impunity and slammed the authorities, including the Delhi Development Authority, for not carrying out their statutory duties.
"It is painful to require the issuance of directions to statutory authorities to carry out their mandatory functions in accordance with the law enacted by Parliament. Unfortunately, the situation in Delhi warranted such a direction due to the apathy of the civic authorities," it said.
The court on May 15 directed the Central government to invite objections from people for 15 days and said the final decision before amending the Master Plan should be taken keeping the interest of the people of Delhi and future generations in mind as well as the statutory requirements.
Later, the Central government sought modification of the order, saying it had earlier invited objections or suggestions for three days and there was not need to invite objections again.
The bench raised questions on the January 31 decision of the Central government reducing the period for inviting suggestions and objections from people from 90 days to just three days.
Calling it "perhaps an intent to satisfy some lobbies", the bench said: "It must be appreciated that the people of Delhi come first."
The apex court said it is for the purpose of "taking the public in Delhi into confidence and working for their benefit" that an opportunity was granted to the Central government to invite public objection.
Noting that an overwhelming 741 objections and suggestions were received by the Central government over a limited period of three days, the bench said it indicates the concern of the public in Delhi which is vitally interested in the proposed amendments.
The court also took objection to the Centre's submission which pointed out the public order situation necessitated the amendment to the rules in Master Plan.
"Apart from submitting that there were riots in Delhi, nothing further was stated and not a single instance of any riot in any part of Delhi was pointed out to us nor any FIR placed before us.
"We were also not told of any exigency that could affect the interest of the public which necessitated curtailing the period of 90 days for filing objections by the public to only 3 days," said the court.
The bench added: "Unfortunately, instead of taking the people of Delhi into confidence, a bogey of public order and rioting has been sought to be communicated to us as if the law and order situation in Delhi was getting out of control."
Earlier, the court came down heavily on the Central government and other authorities on complete breakdown of law and order over the strikes and 'dharnas' against a sealing drive in the national capital.
The apex court on March 6 put a stay on proposed amendments to the Delhi Master Plan that sought to protect traders from a sealing drive by increasing the floor area ratio (FAR).
The Master Plan-2021 is a blueprint for urban planning and expansion in the metropolis to ensure overall development and the proposed amendments are aimed at bringing a uniform FAR for shop-cum-residential plots and complexes on par with residential plots.
FAR is the ratio of a building's total floor area (gross floor area) to the size of the piece of land on which it is built.
An STF was also formed by the Central government to monitor issues relating to unauthorised constructions in Delhi and will take steps to demolish them.
The court was hearing pleas relating to the validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislation protecting unauthorised construction from being sealed in Delhi.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)