By Sumit Saxena
New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday fumed at Centre’s petition seeking disbandment of the court-appointed Monitoring Committee, tasked to implement the law against illegal construction, and handing over its responsibilities to a Special Task Force (STF).
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justice Deepak Gupta lashed out at the Centre’s counsel, saying: “Our Monitoring Committee will not, but your STF will go. Your petition is against the dignity of this court, and it is derogatory to file against this petition against the Committee. And the basic fundamental for the betterment of Delhi is being ignored, as it appears nobody thinks of Delhi.”
Justice Mishra pointedly told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that they should have not filed this petition, though he requested the court to allow him an opportunity to present his case.
As Mehta urged the top court to at least hear him once, Justice Mishra said that the court’s observation have come after carefully examining the issue.
“You ask us to disband the Monitoring Committee which has been working for past many years. We are in capital of this country. We are telling you this with some responsibility. We take objection to your petition; it is hitting our committee directly. We are in anguish and disgusted,” said Justice Mishra.
The amicus curiae on the matter, senior advocate Ranjeet Kumar and advocate A.D.N. Rao opposed this intervention application from the Centre.
“They are making Delhi worse, if not, then what is this petition?” said the amicus insisting the application is an attempt to defang the statutory and constitutional duties performed by the apex court-appointed Monitoring Committee.
During a stake-holders’ meeting on the issue of sealing in Delhi on April 24, 2018, it was contemplated to constitute an STF to implement apex court orders on encroachment and unauthorize construction in the capital. The STF was formed by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which is under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The Monitoring Committee was set up by the top court on March 24, 2006.
It is learnt from sources that Centre, in its intervention application, stated the committee has outlived its purpose – and the two committee format leads to duplication leading to confusion. The Centre is already fire-fighting several decision of the committee. It recently faced criticism for failing to protect the interest of traders, who face action under sealing; and the latest order to seal all fitness centres, gyms, yoga and meditation centres, which came into operation after August 12, 2008.
According to Delhi Master Plan 2021, fitness centres are allowed inside DDA market complexes or shopping malls.
The apex court observed it could see strong difference of opinion between the amicus and the Centre. “It is STF vs Monitoring Committee. One wants to make the other obsolete. This is not good state of affairs, should we form one committee?” observed Justice Mishra.
However, at the end of the hearing, the court did not issue any notice, but instead fixed the matter for further hearing after Dusheera vacation on October 21.
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at email@example.com)