Sealing drive: Delhi Master Plan changed to legalise what is illegal, says SC
The centre’s submission that the Master Plan of Delhi-2021, was the solution for issues related to unauthorised constructions in the national capital, on April 3, 2018, failed to impress the Supreme Court, which termed it as a ploy to legalise the illegal. A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, wanted to know from the centre, if they had any plan to deal with the issue which has arisen in Delhi, on which the traders were staging protests against the ongoing sealing drive.
“Do you have any plan, or do you just want these traders to hold the city to ransom? Do you have any plan?” the bench asked additional solicitor general (ASG) ANS Nadkarni, appearing for the centre. Responding to the query, Nadkarni said, “Government of India does not feel that way. We just want to have a solution for it”. When the bench asked whether the government has thought of any solution, the ASG said, “The Master Plan of Delhi-2021, is a solution for all this.” The court then asked “What about unauthorised colonies? You have changed the master plan, to legalise what is illegal.”
The ASG said the 2021 master plan had not yet been finalised and he could place a roadmap before the court, about what the government proposes to do in the matter. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had proposed amendments in the 2021 master plan, including bringing a uniform floor area ratio (FAR) for shop-cum-residence plots and complexes, at par with residential plots, in a move that would come as a big relief to traders facing the threat of sealing.
FAR is the ratio of a building’s total floor area (gross floor area) to the size of the piece of land upon which it is built.
On March 6, 2018, the apex court had stayed any further progress by the authorities, to amend the 2021 master plan. During the hearing today, the apex court asked the ASG about the encroachments in Delhi and said that pavements and roads have been encroached upon, due to which vehicles were parked on the roads.
“What about past illegalities? You are saying that you will protect it (unauthorised constructions) till 2020,” the bench asked, adding, “Will these illegalities continue till 2020?”
During the hearing, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, asked how the centre could say that the unauthorised constructions would be protected. He said the government speaks about making Delhi a world-class city but he has not found anything about this in the affidavit filed by the centre.
However, the ASG said he would come up with a roadmap on the issue and the court posted the matter for hearing on April 4, 2018.
The top court is hearing arguments on the validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations, which protect unauthorised constructions from being sealed. The apex court had earlier ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee, to identify and seal such offending structures. The monitoring committee, comprising KJ Rao, former advisor to the election commissioner, Bhure Lal, chairman of the EPCA and major general (retd) Som Jhingan, was set up in March 24, 2006, by the court.