'Law declaring moratorium on Delhi demolitions void'

'Law declaring moratorium on Delhi demolitions void'
New Delhi, July 17 (PTI) The Supreme Court today took strong exception to the controversial law declaring a year's moratorium on the sealing and demolition drive in the capital, terming it as "wholly invalid and void".

"This is pure and simple legislature over-ruling this court... First you come here and ask for six months time, then you withdraw your application, we do not know whether it was part of your strategy.

"The legislature can not direct any authority not to comply with the orders of this court," a bench of Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice C K Thakker observed.

Hearing PILs challenging Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, Chief Justice Sabharwal said "At least, I am not aware of the legislature exercising its powers as an appellate authority".

When Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said the presumption of constitutionalty (in favour of the Act) is always there, the Bench retorted "this is wholly invalid and void... The Government has virtually given a go-by to the court order".

The Bench said there was an attempt to overreach the court.

As the Solicitor General sought time to file Centre's reply to the petitions, the Bench gave him one week to do so and fixed July 31 for further hearing.

The court also appointed senior counsel Ranjit Kumar as amicus curiae to assist in the matter.

Earlier, the MCD counsel had on July 14 filed a detailed report on sealing of residential properties being used as commercial ones and sought an early hearing of the matter.

Delhi Residents' Welfare Associations Front, an NGO Citizens Forum and some other organisations have filed PILs challenging the provisions of the Act, which put a moratorium on all demolitions in the capital for a year.

The PILs alleged that the new law was passed with an eye on the coming municipal elections and sought it to be declared as ultra vires of the Constitution as it violated the fundamental rights of law abiding citizens.

The Act provides for maintaining status quo as on January one, 2006 of unauthorised development in respect of mixed land use, construction beyond sanctioned plans and encroachments by slum dwellers, hawkers and street vendors in the capital.

The one-year period is to be utilised to finalise policy, norms, guidelines to deal with such violations.

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