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  India   All India  13 Jul 2022  Can't impose ban on demolitions across states: SC

Can't impose ban on demolitions across states: SC

Published : Jul 13, 2022, 1:24 pm IST
Updated : Jul 14, 2022, 8:50 am IST

The apex court said it cannot pass an omnibus order preventing authorities from taking action

The Supreme Court of India. (ANI File Photo)
 The Supreme Court of India. (ANI File Photo)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to pass an interim direction staying the demolition of properties of accused involved in violent protests across various states. The top court wondered how it could pass an omnibus order on demolitions if there is an illegal construction and the corporation or the council is authorised to take action.

"What omnibus directions can we issue… Nobody can dispute that the rule of law has to be followed. But can we pass an omnibus order? If we pass such an omnibus order, will we not prevent the authorities from taking action in accordance with the law?" a bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and P.S. Narasimha said.

The top court was hearing pleas filed by Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind seeking directions to the Uttar Pradesh government and other states to ensure that no further demolition of properties of alleged accused in recent cases of violence is carried out.

At the outset, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (Maulana Mahmood Madani), said this matter is "extraordinarily" serious and submitted that he came across a report in a newspaper where someone was accused of murder in Assam and his house was demolished.

Urging the bench to decide the issue once and for all, Mr Dave said that the way bulldozing of houses belonging to a community was taking place was unacceptable and in breach of the rule of law. He said that the names of those whose houses were demolished were announced by senior police officers a day in advance before they were bulldozed the next day and not by the municipal authorities.

Mr Dave added that there is a procedure that has to be followed before any demolition takes place and after houses are demolished, there is nothing left to be given as a relief.

"We don't want this culture. Lordships will have to decide for once and all. They have to act in accordance with the law. They cannot take advantage of municipal laws and demolish houses of someone who is merely accused of crimes.

"This country cannot permit this. We are a society governed by the rule of law, which is the basic structure of the Constitution. It should be finally heard and disposed of," Mr Dave said while seeking an interim stay direction on the demolitions. The senior lawyer submitted that there is no material to show that other unauthorised houses were acted against and there is a "pick and choose" against other communities.

Senior advocate C.U. Singh, also appearing for one of the petitioners, said despite the status quo order in Delhi's Jahangirpuri, the same modus operandi was followed in city after city.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said he has some objections to the locus of the petitioners.

Contesting the submissions, Mr Mehta said that the houses of some individuals were demolished after following full procedure and that everything started much before the protest and consequent violence took place. He said that demolition should not be seen as a consequence of participating in the protest.

"Replies have been filed by authorities that the procedure was followed and notices were issued. The demolition process started much before the alleged riots. Merely because you take part in riots does not give you immunity from illegal constructions being demolished. Affected persons have already taken their remedy before various high courts. Let us not create a sensationalising hype unnecessarily," Mr Mehta said.

He opposed Mr Dave's submission and said all communities are Indian. "We cannot have community-based PILs," he said.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, said there is a powerful argument for the rule of law, but the factual edifice may be a little "wobbly".

He said the apex court can not pass an order that a house of an accused should not be demolished notwithstanding any municipal law.

The top court asked the parties to complete pleadings in the matter, and said it will hear the plea filed by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind against demolitions on August 10.

The top court, already seized with demolition matters relating to Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, today issued notice on the pleas relating to Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The court asked all the parties to complete their pleading by August 8 and posted the matter for hearing on August 10.

"Post these matters along with all the connected matters for hearing on 10.08.2022. Pleadings to be completed before the next date of hearing," the top court said in its order today.

On June 16, the apex court had stated that "everything should be fair" and authorities should strictly follow the due procedure under the law while giving the Uttar Pradesh government and its authorities three days to respond to pleas which alleged that the houses of those accused in last week's violence were illegally demolished.

The top court was hearing pleas filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind seeking directions to the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no further demolitions of properties of alleged accused of recent violence are carried out in the State.

The Muslim body had said in its plea that no demolition of properties be carried out without following due process and that such an exercise is done only after adequate notice.

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind had earlier filed the plea on the issue of the demolition of buildings in the Jahangirpuri area of the national capital.

The fresh applications in the pending petition said that after the last hearing in the matter some new developments have taken place that requires the attention of this Court.

Tags: : supreme court, sc on demolition drive, demolition drive
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi