Delhi HC ‘shocked’ after demolished structure reconstructed

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) Expressing shock that a “piao” (drinking water kiosk) near Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk which was demolished on Wednesday following the court’s order, was reconstructed overnight, the Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered its immediate removal and round the clock police presence in the area.

“How can you allow it to be reconstructed? Why wasn’t somebody posted? This is an upfront challenge to the court. This is not tolerable. We will issue contempt of court notices to those responsible,” said a division bench of Justice S. Murlidhar and Justice Vibhu Bakhru said while issuing contempt of court notices to two leaders of the Sikh groups who were leading the mob after Wednesday’s demolition drive.

The court directed the North Municipal Corporation of Delhi to remove the water kiosk and cordon of the area until further orders.

An encroachment drive, undertaken by the civic body after the March 28 court orders for the removal of illegal encroachments, including illegal religious structures, in Chandni Chowk within two weeks, had triggered protests and violence in the area on Wednesday.

Soon after the municipal officials accompanied by police demolished the water kiosk, a mob of devotees gathered on the spot and launched a protest. The protesters rebuilt the water kiosk after the municipal officials left.

Terming the incident as “an open challenge” to the court order, the bench said: “If anyone tries to obstruct the court’s order, the civic officials will be answerable to the court for wilful violation of court’s order.”

During the hearing, Delhi Police said that besides the two leaders, others who were present in the mob were being identified through CCTV footage of the incident. Hearing the submissions of police, the court called for the CCTV footage of the entire incident along with the one showing reconstruction of the kiosk.

It also directed the civic body to submit a report on what exactly happened during the demolition drive, while also asking police to explain why the matter got “out of hand” during the demolition drive.

“DCP (deputy commissioner of police) concerned has to explain what kind of security was provided at the spot and how police permitted reconstruction of the piao,” it said.

Posting the matter for Friday, the court also directed police to ensure maintenance of law and order in the area. On Wednesday the court ordered police to take all necessary steps to prevent further law and order disturbance in the Chandni Chowk area in the wake of a drive to remove illegal encroachments.

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