In the wake of increasing pollution, thousands of illegal commercial establishments in Delhi might get sealed soon as the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday expressed concern over the unauthorised constructions in the national capital. The apex court stated that it could soon consider reviving its monitoring committee that earlier sealed thousands of illegal commercial establishments in NCR a decade ago. The Centre has been asked by the apex court to respond to its proposal of restoring the power to seal unauthorised commercial establishments to the monitoring committee. This move by the Supreme Court has been taken up due to the failure of civic authorities to curb the rampant unauthorised construction and misuse of residential premises.
A bench headed by Justice MB Lokur was quoted saying, “We cannot let Delhi go the way other cities are going and let it flood when there are heavy rains. Unauthorised construction takes a toll on the environment and affects sewage, parking and waste management.” It added, “Prima facie we feel the rule of law has been violated and it has a vital impact on the environment in Delhi.” The bench has further sought the assistance of additional solicitor general AS Nadkarni on its next hearing that is due on December 14. This step is being taken so that there is no ‘breakdown of rule of law in Delhi as far as construction is concerned,’ according to a Hindustan Times report.
Back in the year 2006, the sealing of illegal commercial establishments in Delhi had led to a face-off between the SC and the Centre as the apex court was passing sealing offers, while the government was introducing trader protection laws. In January 2012, the monitoring committee was stopped by the apex court from sealing unauthorised premises. This move was taken up with the “hope and expectation” that the authorities would carry out their statutory duties and act against unauthorised usage. While talking about the order passed in 2012, Advocate AND Rao, assisting the court said that due to the 2012 order, the monitoring committee had become a toothless tiger. “With no sealing powers this committee has become redundant,” he said.
The monitoring committee was set up on March 24, 2006 by the Supreme Court. It comprised of Former advisor to the Election Commission KJ Rao, chairman of Environment Pollution Control Authority (APCA) Bhure Lal and major general (retd) Som Jhingan.