Hours after several bulldozers entered Delhi’s violence-hit Jahangirpuri on Tuesday and began demolishing suspected illegal constructions and encroachments in the area, the Supreme Court ordered a standstill on the demolition campaign of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, preventing authorities from proceeding. – although it took at least another 90 minutes for the local body to halt the demolition campaign, citing failure to receive a supreme court order.
A bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana, passed the brief standstill order (to remain as it stands) around 11 a.m. following an urgent plea from some lawyers, complaining of what they called an “unconstitutional and unauthorized demolition”.
Led by Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, the lawyers implored the bench, which also included Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, to intervene immediately given the ongoing demolition campaign as they stood in court.
“This is a totally unconstitutional and unauthorized demolition campaign, taking place in Jahangirpuri where violence has recently taken place. No one has been notified and no one has been heard. We have offered urgent advocacy Dave submitted in front of the bench while arguing a motion filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, supported by lead attorney Kapil Sibal, PV Surendranath and attorney Prashant Bhushan.
“Okay, we run the status quo. We will list it tomorrow,” reacted the bench.
The demolition campaign follows events over the weekend, when police intervened to prevent a communal clash in the area from turning into a riot; 25 people were arrested and two others apprehended following the incident in which several police officers were injured. Hindu groups who took part in a procession because of Hanuman Jayanti said they were pelted with stones from buildings near a mosque. Muslims say men armed with swords and sticks in the procession shouted inflammatory slogans outside the mosque. The police are investigating the incident.
The municipality sought to separate the incidents and said the campaign was aimed at illegal encroachments. However, this comes against the backdrop of similar campaigns in other states targeting people allegedly involved in riots – and without following due process (such as an ongoing investigation).
At this point, Sibal pointed out that he is appearing for Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind in another petition, in which the use of bulldozers by several state governments to raze the properties of people suspected of being involved in criminals was challenged. “It is about the ramification of such actions all over India,” he added.
To this, the CJI replied: “We have already ordered a standstill in this matter. We will also take care of your case tomorrow.
Just an hour after the bench issued the verbal order, Dave returned to court, complaining about the company’s and law enforcement’s failure to comply with the standstill order. “Despite the order of this court, they continue the demolition. Please request the Chief Secretary of this court to communicate the court order to the Mayor and Commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation and Commissioner of Police. Once it’s widely reported in the media, it’s no longer appropriate. We are a democratic society. It sends the wrong message,” Dave lamented.
Accepting his request, the CJI then ordered officials at the court registry to immediately communicate the court order to all relevant authorities, including the mayor and police commissioner of Delhi.
Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind has filed two petitions with the Supreme Court regarding the controversial practice of using bulldozers to tear down the residential and commercial properties of people suspected of involvement in criminal incidents such as violence. Recently, such incidents have been reported in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where structures belonging to some defendants have been demolished using bulldozers.
The Islamist organization filed its first petition last week when it said resorting to such measures without following due process is contrary to constitutional ethics and the criminal justice system, as well as a violation of human rights. rights of the accused. He urged the Supreme Court to issue appropriate instructions to the Union government and all states that demolition cannot be used as a punitive measure against persons allegedly involved in criminal incidents such as riots.
Jamiat’s second petition specifically raised the issue of the fight against encroachment and demolition in Jahangirpuri just four days after communal violence in the area on Hanuman Jayanti Day left eight police officers and one civilian injured.
“The actions of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation are arbitrary and illegal because the people whose homes or establishments will be demolished have received no notice from the authorities. The actions of the respondents will cause irreparable harm to the people of the area who have resided there for more than three decades and it is their only source of income,” reads the new petition, filed on Tuesday.
These two requests will be examined by the high court on Wednesday.