The Delhi High Court has expressed displeasure over an “unhealthy pattern” of government authorities, state departments and corporations not filing replies and status reports on petitions in time and warned them of imposing costs if time schedule for pleadings is not adhered to.
The high court observed that usually all the governmental authorities, despite specific directions, are unable to file affidavits within the specified time schedule and choose to do so just one or two days before the date of hearing.
“The court is constrained to observe that there is an unhealthy pattern of governmental authorities, state departments and corporations not filing the counter affidavits and status reports as per the timelines prescribed by the court…
“It is made clear that costs would be liable to be imposed if the time schedule for pleadings fixed by the court is not adhered to,” Justice Prathiba M Singh said.
The court was hearing a petition by the Wazirpur Bartan Nirmata Sangh stating that despite directions, innumerable encroachments have come up in the Wazirpur area all over again.
In October 2003, a division bench of the high court had taken cognizance of the encroachments existing in the Wazirpur area and had passed directions for removal of all illegal structures and encroachments on the road.
Justice Singh, in an order passed on January 30, said in the petition, neither the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) nor the Station House Officer (SHO) concerned has filed their affidavits.
The court said both the affidavits were handed over to it during the hearing and were stated to be filed on January 26 and 28 respectively.
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After perusing MCD’s affidavit and photographs, the court noted that some demolition action has been taken by the authorities and encroachments have been removed.
The MCD’s stand was that after the removal of encroachments, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (North West) has been issued a letter to ensure that no further encroachment or illegal construction takes place and a strict watch is kept.
The petitioner’s counsel said debris has not been removed from the area and even fresh construction has taken place and all the encroachments have also not been removed.
The high court said the August 2022 order was very clear that the MCD and local police are placed under collective duty and obligation to ensure that the public roads are made clear of encroachment and illegal structures.
“It is usually seen that even if the demolition or encroachment removal takes place, the local police does not thereafter, ensure that no fresh encroachments are made. Moreover, the ‘malba’ (debris) in the area is left lying as it is which inconveniences the public. Whenever unauthorised construction and encroachments are removed, cleaning up of the said area is an obligation of the MCD, which they have to undertake without fail,” it said.
It further said the SHO of the area concerned would also be responsible to ensure that no further unauthorised construction is made out after encroachments are removed.
The court directed certain officers of MCD, police and representatives of the petitioner association to do a joint inspection of the area and file a status report.
“This shall be the last and final opportunity to the Assistant Commissioner, Keshav Puram Zone, MCD, as also to the concerned SHO to ensure that there are no more encroachments in the area failing which the action would be liable to be taken against these officials personally,” it said and listed the matter for further hearing on April 10.