The Supreme Court on Wednesday halted the anti-encroachment drive by authorities in the violence-hit Jahangirpuri area of the national capital after considering a plea of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind that buildings of Muslim riots accused are being razed.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana, which ordered maintaining of status quo concerning the demolition of buildings in the forenoon, intervened again during the day after it was apprised that the authorities were not stopping on the ground that no official communication has been received by them.
Taking note of the submissions of senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Muslim body, the bench, also comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, directed the apex court Secretary-General to convey its morning order to stop demolition to the NDMC (North Delhi Municipal Corporation) mayor, commissioner and the Delhi police commissioner immediately.
“I am sorry to mention it again...In the morning, I had mentioned the matter. Despite communicating the (stay) order, they (authorities) are not stopping the demolition. They are saying that they have not officially received any communication. I request to ask the secretary-general to communicate the order to the police commissioner and the mayor and the commissioner of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC),” Dave said.
“It will be too late otherwise,” the senior lawyer said urging urgent remedial action on the part of the top court.
“Ok. Communicate it through the secretary-general (of the apex court) immediately,” the CJI said.
The senior advocate said that the order of the apex court was widely reported by the media in the morning and still the authorities were not acting as per it.
“I don't understand. We are in a rule of law society... I am feeling sad as it will send a terribly wrong message,” Dave said.
In the forenoon, Dave mentioned the petition of Jamiat against the special joint encroachment removal action of the civic bodies including the NDMC and the PWD and said “a completely unauthorised and unconstitutional demolition” has been ordered.
He alleged that the demolition, which was to start at 2 pm on Wednesday, has begun at 9 am and no mandatory notice, granting time for response, for demolition has been served on the alleged violators.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, also appearing for the Muslim body, mentioned another petition in which a direction to the Centre and some states including Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh has been sought asking them not to take “precipitative actions” like razing buildings in criminal proceedings against riots accused.
“Upon being mentioned by Mr. Dushyantt Dave, We direct the Registry to list the matter tomorrow (Thursday) that is on April 21 along with (other petition)... before an appropriate bench. Status quo, as exists today, shall be maintained, until further orders,” the bench ordered.
Jahangirpuri in north Delhi had witnessed violent clashes, including stone-pelting, arson, and firing, between two communities during a Hanuman Jayanti procession on Saturday. Eight police personnel and a local resident had sustained injuries.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, in its separate plea, has sought a direction to the Centre and the states, where buildings are being razed in criminal proceedings, that such an action be not taken.
This was filed in the wake of recent actions taken by authorities in Madhya Pradesh to use bulldozers to raze properties of those accused of rioting during the Ram Navami celebrations.
The petition said the action like razing the house in a criminal proceeding as a punishment is unknown to criminal law.
“Petitioners also seek a declaration that residential accommodations or any commercial property cannot be demolished as a punitive measure… also pray that police personnel to be provided specialised training in handling communal riots and situations where populations become restive,” it said.