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India: Supreme Court halts demolition drive in Delhi's violence-hit Jahangirpuri, orders 'status quo'

Order came even as bulldozers started razing structures as per orders of the BJP-controlled civic body



Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

By ANI

Published: Wed 20 Apr 2022, 12:33 PM

India's Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered to maintain a “status-quo” on the demolition drive conducted by North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Jahangirpuri in the national capital.

The court said it will hear tomorrow the petition challenging the special joint encroachment removal programme in Jahangirpuri of the civic bodies including the NDMC and the PWD.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana hearing the submission of Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave ordered status quo in the present situation and said the petition would be listed before an appropriate bench.

The court’s order came even as bulldozers started razing structures in the area as per orders of the BJP-controlled North Delhi Municipal Corporation and amid heavy police presence.

The “encroachment removal action programme” was scheduled to take place on Wednesday and Thursday after the area witnessed violence on April 16 during a religious procession.

In the hearing senior Advocate Dave mentioned that “unconstitutional, unauthorised demolition” was taking place in Jahangirpuri where riots took place.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave also apprised the court that the demolition drive, which was scheduled to be carried out in the afternoon had begun in Jahangirpuri at 9 am today.

Meanwhile, senior Advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the plea filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind’s plea against employing bulldozers to raze houses of persons suspected to be involved in crimes.

Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind moved the Supreme Court against employing bulldozers to raze down the houses of persons suspected to be involved in criminal incidents such as violence.

Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind has urged the Supreme Court to issue appropriate direction to the Centre and state governments that no lasting precipitative action be taken against any accused in any criminal proceedings and issue directions that residential accommodation cannot be demolished as a punitive measure.

In its petition Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind said that there has recently been an increase in the incidents of demolition of residential and commercial properties by government administration in several states as a punitive measure towards persons purportedly involved in criminal incidents such as riots.

“In response to alleged acts of violence, the administration in several states has been employing bulldozers to raze down the houses of persons suspected to be involved in such acts/ incidents. A number of ministers and legislators, including the Chief Minister and the Home Minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh, have made statements advocating such acts and especially threatened the minority groups with the destruction of their homes and commercial properties in case of riots,” the petition read.

According to the petition, resorting to such measures/ actions is clearly against our constitutional ethos and the criminal justice system, as also in violation of the rights of accused persons.

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“Such measures by the governments undermine the criminal justice system of our country, including the important role of the courts. The legal process, including the pre-trial and trial stage, is hindered by these acts of the state, therefore, immediate action is needed to prevent such incidents from repeating,” the petitioner said, urging the top court to step in to stop the situation from escalating any further and also prevent such acts from being repeated in other states as well. Therefore, Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind has sought directions that any commercial property cannot be demolished as a punitive measure.

It also sought to issue directions to provide training to police personnel in handling communal riots and situations where populations become restive.

The petitioner also urged to issue directions that ministers, legislators and anybody unconnected with the criminal investigation should be restrained from apportioning criminal responsibility regarding criminal action publicly or through any official communication until a determination by a criminal court publicly or any official communication until a determination by a criminal court.

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation Wednesday had scheduled an “encroachment removal action programme”, wherein illegal construction in the Jahangirpuri area will be removed on Wednesday and Thursday (April 20-21).


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