The Delhi High Court has imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) for sealing a restaurant in Connaught Place without issuing a notice, saying there was flagrant violation of principles of natural justice and that its action cannot be justified.
The court trashed the submission of NDMC that the action was taken on the direction of the Supreme Court-mandated monitoring committee, and said the civic body's stand suggest non-application of mind.
"The above conclusion must normally result in the de-sealing of the property in question," Justice V Kameswar Rao said.
The court asked NDMC to issue a show-cause notice to Destination Cafe Pvt. Ltd., which runs Zabardast Indian Kitchen, within three days detailing the reasons for which it intends to take action of sealing against the premises, along with the communication received from the monitoring committee.
NDMC shall seek a reply on it from the restaurant owner within four days thereafter and pass a reasoned and speaking order, on all the pleas taken by the petitioner in its reply within one week, the court said.
It added that if the civic body agrees with the pleas taken by the restaurant, the follow-up action shall be taken.
The court also said there was nothing to suggest that NDMC has considered the material or the past litigation referred to by the restaurant, before taking the action of sealing.
"It is a case of flagrant violation of principles of natural justice. The action cannot be justified. The division bench...has clearly held that an order of sealing could not have been passed without giving a hearing," the court said and imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on NDMC which should be paid to the restaurant.
According to Destination Cafe, the premises was leased out to it for carrying out restaurant/bar business through lease deeds registered on May 18, 2016 and it employed 70 persons.
They were also granted 'no objection certificate' by the authorities and on May 4 this year, NDMC passed an order of sealing under the provisions of the NDMC Act, it said.
It said that the premises was sealed at around 6.50 PM when the restaurant/ bar was functioning and they abruptly stopped the business of the company without issuing a show-cause notice.
NDMC's counsel said the sealing action was taken in terms of the earlier directions of the Supreme Court which had directed any challenge to the decision of the monitoring committee would lie in the apex court only.
He said similar sealing action has been carried out at other premises in the middle circle of Connaught Place (CP) by it in consonance with the directions of the monitoring committee.
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