Top court had ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring panel to seal illegal structures in Delhi (File)
Invaders pillaged Delhi for hundreds of years, but for the last couple of decades it is being ravaged by its citizens and officials, the Supreme Court today said referring to unauthorised constructions and misuse of residential premises for commercial purposes.
A bench comprising justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta said the consequences of the failure to implement the rule of law in Delhi were having a generational impact, which cannot be anything but disastrous.
"Invaders have pillaged Delhi for hundreds of years, but for the last couple of decades it is being ravaged by its own citizens and officials governing the capital city - we refer to unauthorised constructions and misuse of residential premises for industrial and other commercial purposes," it said.
The court rued that its directions have failed to bring "some sanity to urban living".
In an important direction, the top court ordered that the cases, transferred by it to the Delhi High Court, pertaining to sealing drive be send back to it as no hearing has taken place on them in the high court during the last four years.
The directions came while disposing an application filed by a private company to release one of its properties which was sealed by the monitoring committee in 2007 as it was used for commercial purposes.
The bench, however, made it clear that those residential premises which were sealed by the monitoring committee for misuse for any commercial purposes (other than industrial) can directly approach the committee for relief after depositing an amount of Rs 1 lakh with it.
"We make it clear that this order will inure to the benefit of only those who are using residential premises for commercial purposes (non-industrial) or for any other non- residential purpose and whose premises were sealed at the instance of the monitoring committee. This order will not at all inure for the benefit of anybody using residential premises for any industrial activity of any sort or nature whatsoever," it said.
The top court has also asked the monitoring committee to set up a website and place all these reports, duly indexed, on the website so that they are available to the citizens of Delhi.
It said that the industrial activity had continued despite the master plan for Delhi, meaning thereby that impermissible industrial activity continued in residential areas in Delhi.
"Tragically, the situation continues even today and those who are suffering are the citizens of Delhi, the sufferance being not only confined to breathing hazardous and noxious air but also the health of thousands of people including children and infants residing in Delhi," the bench said.
The top court had on December 6 ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring panel to identify and seal illegal structures in Delhi.
The court had said that the rule of law over sanction to construct buildings has "completely broken down" in Delhi and expressed concern over rampant illegal constructions in the national capital.
The monitoring committee was set up in March 24, 2006, by the top court to oversee implementation of the law relating to sealing of offending premises.
The court had said it had asked the committee not to seal any premises from 2012 after expecting the authorities to carry out their statutory duties.