The Delhi High Court directed the Vice Chairman, Delhi Development Authoirity (DDA) and Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to put in place structural reforms and devise new strategies to deal with the menace of encroachment as well as illegal and unauthorized construction.

The court noted that even today the MCD is continuing to use threads, tapes, strings, and bandages to seal a property and is only normally puncturing the roofs partially in the name of demolition.

The Court said thus in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) relating to the illegal construction, filed by Jamia Arabia Nizamia Welfare Education Society against the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet P.S. Arora observed, “It is also strange that in today’s time MCD is continuing to use threads, tapes, strings and bandages to seal a property and is only normally puncturing the roofs partially in the name of demolition. No wonder, the sealing and demolition actions are having no deterrent effect. The Executive seems to be satisfied with the status quo and is unwilling to reform the system by using easily accessible technology like drones, satellite images, digital maps, etc. which would easily detect encroachment and unauthorized construction at such a massive scale.”

Advocate Rakesh K. Lakra appeared on behalf of the petitioner while SC Shobhana Takiar appeared on behalf of the respondents.

Facts of the Case -

The High Court had first heard the matter on January 16 this year and it was alleged that it is a case of illegal and unauthorised construction taking place at Khasra No. 556, Ziyrat Guest House, West Nizamuddin near centrally protected monuments like “Nizamuddin Ki Baoli” and “Barakhamba Tomb”. The Court was further informed that despite the petitioner’s representation to the respondents (authorities) highlighting the illegal construction being carried out and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) issuing a work stop notice, the statutory authorities failed to take any action.

Since the counsel for ASI stated that it had written a letter to register an FIR, the court had on the first date of hearing itself observed that prima facie, illegal and unauthorized construction was taking place with the tacit support if not active connivance of statutory authorities. Accordingly, the Deputy Commissioner, MCD, Central Zone was directed to remain personally present in court on the next date of hearing, and the respondents were directed to ensure that no further construction was carried out at Ziyrat Guest House.

The High Court in the above regard noted, “… it is apparent that despite multiplicity of authorities and an elaborate system of checks and balances, illegal and unauthorized construction is going on at a scale previously unheard of and that too in the heart of Delhi. It seems there is no respect for law amongst the builders courtesy the attitude of ‘passing the buck’ adopted by the respondents. … Moreover, even if there is a dispute as to the ownership of the land between the Waqf Board and the DDA, this Court has not understood as to how the property has changed hands and further to how fresh construction has been carried out. It is pertinent to mention that the property in question is only a stone throw away from a local police booth.”

The Court added that the issue whether Waqf Board facilitated the sale, change of nature of the property and the illegal and unauthorized construction would also have to be examined and that the allegations against the petitioner, though vehemently denied, need to be examined also. It said that the administrative responsibility needs to be fixed and the role of the parties needs to be examined.

“Accordingly, the Commissioner, MCD and the Vice-Chairman, DDA are directed to ensure that inquiries are set up and responsibility is fixed for large scale illegal and unauthorised construction in Nizamuddin West. … Since an FIR has already been registered by the local police, this Court directs transfer of investigation of the said FIR to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) who is directed to examine the facts threadbare and take the matter to its logical conclusion by filing supplementary/additional FIRs in the event any criminal offence is made out. The CBI is impleaded as a respondent party in the present proceedings and is directed to file a status report within eight weeks. The petitioner is directed to file an amended memo of parties within a week”, it further directed.

The Court, therefore, directed the Vice Chairman, DDA and Commissioner, MCD to put in place structural reforms and devise new strategies to deal with the menace of encroachment as well as illegal and unauthorized construction.

Accordingly, the High Court listed the case on May 7, 2024.

Cause Title- Jamia Arabia Nizamia Welfare Education Society v. Delhi Development Authority through its Vice Chairman & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:1335-DB)


Petitioner: Advocates Rakesh K. Lakra, Bhavya Sharma, and Rahul.

Respondents: SC Shobhana Takiar, Senior Advocate Sanjoy Ghose, Advocates Chand Chopra, Neha Bhupathiraju, Ajjay Aroraa, Kapil Dutta, Naresh Garg, Navin Kaul, Pavan Narang, Himanshu Sethi, Aishwarya Chhabra, Mohit Bhardwaj, M.S. Khan, Daniyal Ayyubi, Shaziya, Farhat Jahan Rehmani, and Firoz Iqbal Khan.

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