The North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s Commissioner has told the Supreme Court that no house or shop was demolished either on April 20 or in any previous demolition drives in Jahangirpuri area, and after learning about court order the demolition drive was stopped at around 12 noon.
In a counter-affidavit, the Commissioner said: “Having learnt about the order, I immediately instructed the team of the corporation to stop the on-going process at around 12 noon. I respectfully submit that after having come to know about the order of this court the on-going process was immediately stopped”.
He added that it is a common experience that whenever the law enforcing agencies exercise their powers of removal of unauthorised projections and other encroachments, the affected parties mislead the authorities by wrongly contending that there is a stay by some competent court.
“It is therefore that unless such a stay order is shown, the drive continues. The officers on site on a working day while supervising the drive would not be looking at the television reports or social media reports.
Refuting the allegations that houses, shops and a certain portion of a mosque had been demolished, the affidavit added: “It is emphatically submitted no house or shop was demolished at all, either on April 20, or in any of the previous drives. This is blatant falsehood for which the deponent who has affirmed the affidavit needs to be prosecuted.”
The Commissioner said the petitioner has attempted to communally sensationalise a routine administrative exercise, which was being undertaken under the orders of the Delhi High Court.
On April 20, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, mentioned the Jehangirpuri demolition matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, saying despite the top court’s order, the municipal corporation did not stop the demolition drive.
On April 21, a bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao had told the authorities that it will take a serious view, if demolition was carried out despite the top court ordering status quo.
The Commissioner said sections 320 to 322 of the Delhi Municipal Act, which deals with streets and public places shows that the MCD is entitled to remove encroachments from public land without notice. “When a road or footpath is cleared, the process goes on from one end to another without any distinction of the religion or owner/ occupier who has unauthorisedly occupied footpath or public road,” it added.
He submitted that only the activity of removing unauthorised projections on public roads, unauthorised temporary structures well beyond the boundary of houses and shops took place, and the building line has remained intact during the drives. “The petitioner is connecting some riotous incidents which took place in Jahangirpuri area on April 16, in an attempt to stall the lawful exercise of the North DMC by deliberately tendering misleading submissions and by giving it a political colour,” added the affidavit.
The response from Commisisoner, North Delhi Municipal Corporation came on plea by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind against the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri area. On April 21, the Supreme Court extended the status quo order in connection with the demolition drive carried out by North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Jahangirpuri until further orders.