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CPI(M) Delhi unit, hawkers union move SC against anti-encroachment drive in south Delhi

CPI(M) Delhi unit, hawkers union move SC against anti-encroachment drive in south Delhi
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New Delhi: The CPI(M)'s Delhi unit and Hawkers Union have moved the Supreme Court against the south Delhi civic body demolishing buildings, terming it a "violation of principles of natural justice, statutes and the Constitution" under the guise of an anti-encroachment drive.

They pleaded that they were not unauthorized occupants or encroachers as alleged by the respondents -- the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and others.

"It has come to the notice of the petitioner that the office of the assistant commissioner of respondent number one (SDMC) has issued letter... for providing necessary police force, including lady police, to the MCD staff to maintain law and order during the encroachment removal action," the plea stated.

It claimed that without giving proper show-cause notice and giving breathing time to the people residing and working in different areas of south Delhi the respondents proposed to start demolition, denying their precious constitutional rights and right to life.

"The authorities have not issued statutory notice to owners/occupants of the buildings to show cause why the buildings should not be demolished. No notice is issued to them as to how encroachment is made by the occupants/owners of the buildings," it said.

The party said the entire action is "absolutely and manifestly arbitrary" and in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 while asserting that if this is permitted, their only shelter and buildings for their livelihood will be demolished in "utter disregard" to statutes and the Constitution.

"People residing and working in the notified area are generally very poor and marginalized who are incapable of resisting the illegal inhumane action of the respondents," the plea drawn up by advocate Subhash Chandran KR and settled by senior advocate PV Surendranath said.

It further pointed out that on May 4, 2022, the authorities demolished buildings with bulldozers in Sangham Vihar area. They have illegally demolished buildings of the poor people with bulldozers and caused severe trauma and loss to the people."

"But the authorities did not undertake the demolition drive in Kalindi Kunj as per schedule as there was no sufficient police force. Now it is reliably understood that they would demolish the buildings in Shaheen Bagh and other areas on May 9 and 13, 2022."

The plea alleged that the political executive of respondent number one -- the SDMC -- was maliciously indulging in a political game plan.

"The entire action of the respondent is absolutely and manifestly arbitrary and without following any due process of law.

"It is most respectfully submitted that the demolition action under the guise of encroachment removal is totally in violation of principles of natural justice and statutory provisions of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, and the Constitution," it said.

The plea of Delhi Pradesh Rehri Patri Khomcha Hawkers Union filed through its general secretary is also similarly worded.

Both the petitions sought direction to SDMC and the police not to proceed with any action pursuant to and in furtherance of the letter or any such other order without due process of the law complying with principles of natural justice and following statutory mandate.

The petitions also sought directions to the authorities concerned to grant adequate compensation to the victims of the illegal demolition undertaken by the SDMC and other authorities.

On April 20, the top court had stalled the anti-encroachment drive by authorities in the violence-hit Jahangirpuri area of Delhi after taking note of a plea of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind that buildings of Muslims accused in the riot are being razed.

The top court bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana had ordered maintaining the status quo concerning the demolition of buildings.

Jahangirpuri in north Delhi had witnessed violent clashes, including stone-pelting, arson, and firing, between two communities during a Hanuman Jayanti procession last month.

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