The national capital is being "ravaged" by unauthorised encroachments and illegal constructions, the Supreme Court said today as it rejected the Centre's plea seeking modification of an order asking it to invite suggestions from the public before amending the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021.
The top court had on May 15 asked the Centre to give a window of 15 days to the people of Delhi to give suggestions or objections to the government which had proposed amendments to the Delhi's master plan.
The Centre had sought modification of the order while objecting to the 15-day time on several grounds including it may create "law and order" problem.
"Again unfortunately, instead of taking the people of Delhi into confidence with regard to amendments to the Master Plan, 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.
"We are at a loss to understand the hyper-reaction and how changes in the Master Plan are sought to be brought about without any meaningful public participation with perhaps an intent to satisfy some lobbies and curtailing a period of 90 days to just 3 days on some unfounded basis. It must be appreciated that the people of Delhi come first," the bench said in its order.
"It has been recorded that Delhi is being ravaged by unauthorised encroachments and illegal constructions with impunity and none of the civic authorities including the Delhi Development Authority was sincerely carrying out its statutory duties," it said.
The court said it had to step in because the situation in Delhi warranted this, due to the apathy of the civic authorities.
It said there was no need to curtail the statutory period for inviting suggestions from the public on proposed amendments in the master plan.
The bench said that Attorney General K K Venugopal pointed out to the public order situation which had necessitated the amendment to the Rules and curtailing the period of 90 days for filing objections by the public to three days.
"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," it noted.
The bench said it was for the purpose of "taking the public in Delhi into confidence and working for their benefit" an opportunity was granted to the Centre to invite public objections on the amendment into the master plan of Delhi (MPD).
It also noted that "overwhelming 741 objections and suggestions" were received by the Centre over a limited period of three days.
Earlier, the court had came down heavily on Centre and other authorities on complete breakdown of law and order over the strikes and 'dharnas' against the ongoing sealing drive in the national capital.
The apex court had on March 6 stayed the proposed changes in the Master Plan that sought to protect traders from a sealing drive in the national capital 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.
A special task force was also formed by the Centre 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.
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