Delhi is in a mess, the High Court said today observing that people running businesses cannot make profit at the cost of public life. The high court also said if there is a terrorist attack, the security agencies will not be able to reach the spot on time. “Delhi is in a mess. We have cases were residential places have been converted into coaching institutes. Increase in population have led to increase in crime. Instead of going out of the city, we are coming inside,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said. “There would not have been such a mess in the city if the authorities concerned would have been working together and in same direction,” the bench said.
The oral observations came during the hearing of PILs filed by social activist Pankaj Sharma and advocate Anuja Kapur alleging there were over 120 restaurants and pubs running in the Hauz Khas Village of south Delhi without any approved building plans or no objection certificate (NOC) from the authorities, including the fire department.
It observed that the people doing business “deserve to make profit, but not at the cost of public life”. It also made it clear that “if restaurants have to run, they have to comply with the law” and “we are concerned with safety”.
The bench, which had sought replies from various agencies on different occasions, also said that it needed to decided the issue at large. The bench framed issues for consideration before it in public interest including safety of people visiting he Hauz Khas village and whether requisite clearances have been obtained from the authorities to run the restaurants or not. It said that it is necessary because the crime in that area have also risen. The bench also directed the Delhi Jal Board to inform it about the source of water for the eateries at the village and and also the number of bore-wells in that area.
The court fixed the matter for further hearing on September 26. During the hearing the court was informed that several restaurants in the village, which also served liquor, were running in a prohibited area near ancient monuments and a school. It also asked the Archaeological Survey of India to inform it whether the eateries are away from their properties. The bench had earlier sent out a strong message to the eateries at the village operating without mandatory clearances, saying “we are here to protect the life and personal liberty of every person in the city”.
The petitioners have alleged “unlawful existence” of restaurants, pubs, fashion studios, bars serving liquor without licence, art galleries and other buildings in the village. They have also claimed that these restaurants posed a grave security risk and fire hazard and apart from that the crowd in the area had made it impossible for emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire brigade vans to gain access to the restaurants.