The Supreme Court today stayed any further progress by authorities to amend Delhi Master Plan 2021, which is aimed at granting protection from the ongoing sealing drive in the national capital. The apex court took strong exception to the fact that neither the Delhi government nor the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs) had filed affidavits on whether an environment impact assessment was conducted before proposing an amendment to the city’s Master Plan.
“This is contempt, and nothing short of contempt. This dadagiri has to stop,” a bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. The top court also discharged BJP MLA Om Prakash Sharma and municipal councillor Gunjan Gupta, against whom it had earlier issued show cause notices for contempt for allegedly obstructing authorities from carrying out the sealing drive. The bench said it has gone through the CD containing video footage of protest and it appeared that Sharma and Gupta were not obstructing the authorities.
However, the bench took umbrage to derogatory language being used in the video footage and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal being insulted by the protestors. “You cannot insult the prime minister and any chief minister just because they are not from your political party. You must show respect to them,” the bench said. “You are destroying the institution. This is absolutely unacceptable. Today you are insulting the chief minister of the Union Territory of Delhi. Tomorrow, you will insult the chief minister of a state and then the prime minister of our country,” the bench observed.
Master Plan 2021 is a blueprint for urban planning and expansion in the metropolis to ensure overall development. The proposed amendments were for bringing a uniform floor area ratio (FAR) for shop-cum-residential plots and complexes at par with residential plots. FAR is the ratio of a building’s total floor area (gross floor area) to the size of the piece of land on which it is built. The top court had asked authorities to file the affidavit after noting the submissions of senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the sealing matter.
The bench had earlier taken a strong note of a report filed by a court-mandated monitoring committee, which said officials were obstructed from performing their duties by a gathering at the instance of Sharma and councillor Gupta during the process of sealing premises. The apex court had earlier observed that the rule of law over sanction to construct buildings had “completely broken down” and expressed concern over illegal construction. It had also ordered restoration of its monitoring panel to identify and seal offending structures. The committee, comprising K J Rao, former advisor to the Election Commission, Bhure Lal, chairman, Environment Pollution Control Authority, and Major General (Retd) Som Jhingan, was set up on March 24, 2006, by the apex court.