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As Supreme Court orders to continue status quo in Jahangirpuri anti-encroachment drive for two weeks, here is what the lawyers argued before the bench

Kapil Sibal insisted that the court should put a stay on at least those demolitions being carried out by using bulldozers. The court rebuffed his claim saying that "Demolition is always done with bulldozers only."

On April 21, Thursday, the Supreme Court bench of Justices LN Rao and BR Gavai was hearing petitions against anti-encroachment drives in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri neighbourhood. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the government, asserted that the submission made by Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind that demolition is only against one community was “factually incorrect”.

Notably, following the violence that occurred during the Hanuman Jayanti Shobha Yatra on April 16, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation on April 20, Wednesday, demolished many illegal encroachments on public space using bulldozers in the C Block of Jahangirpuri. Following this, a public interest litigation petition (PIL) was filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind in the apex court against the government’s anti-encroachment drive.

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Dushyant Dave appeared for the Islamic organisation. Both Senior Advocates essentially argued that the anti-encroachment drives are being carried out by the government sans any procedure and due process and only in order to target the Muslim community.

However, when Sibal told Court that “encroachments are a problem in Delhi, but encroachments are now being associated with Muslims,” Justice Rao said, “Properties of Hindus are being demolished as well”. Sibal then said that he does not remember the last time this happened, insisting upon the bench to explain when that happened last.

To counter the submission made by Kapil Sibal, SG Tushar Mehta, representing the government, gave the example of a similar anti-encroachment drive carried out in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh.

He said that in Khargone, 88 per cent of the affected parties were Hindus. He apologised for segregating the affected parties in terms of religion and claimed that the government does not want to bifurcate in this manner but is being compelled because of the factually incorrect arguments presented by petitioners like Jamiat Ulema I Hind.

The SG also pointed out before the court that the government had issued notices regarding the demolition of properties built illegally in public spaces in the year 2021 itself.

The SG also emphasised the established pattern used by opposition parties and certain organisations to obstruct government work. “It’s become a habit. Every time a demolition occurs, organisations and individuals from various political spectrums come forward,” Tushar Mehta stated.

“No individuals have come forward only organisations have, Mehta, told the apex court. He added that all demolitions were carried out with prior notifications.

The SG further said that so far as buildings were concerned, notices were issued. A petition was filed by a Jahangirpuri traders association where there are judicial orders of the HC regarding the removal of encroachment. In terms of Delhi, they attempted to remove what was lying on footpaths and public roads beginning on January 19, then in February 2022, and finally, in April 2022, the SG stated.

Interestingly, when Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Islamist organisation Jamiat Ulema I Hind, sought a stay on the demolition, the Supreme Court bench of Justices LN Rao and BR Gavai said that they “can’t put a stay on all kinds of demolition across the country.”

To this, Sibal went on to insist that the court should put a stay on at least those demolitions being carried out by using bulldozers. “Those with bulldozers,” argued Sibal. The court rebuffed the senior advocate’s claim saying that “Demolition is always done with bulldozers only.”

The Supreme Court, after hearing the arguments, issued notice to the NDMC and others on plea against the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri. The bench, while ordering a status quo for another two weeks, directed the NDMC and others to file a reply on the plea at the earliest.

On April 20, Wednesday, the Supreme Court had ordered to maintain the status quo in the ongoing demolition drive being carried out by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri.

Hearing the petition, the Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana ordered the authorities to maintain the status-quo on the demolition drive and not to continue with the demolition started by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation against encroachers.

Earlier on Wednesday, the NMDC had started its anti-encroachment drive in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area amid a heavy police presence. Many bulldozers had started bringing down illegal structures, shops and other encroachments.

The NMDC had requested over 400 personnel from the Delhi police to carry out the anti-encroachment drive in the Jahangirpuri area. The area had witnessed severe violence on April 16 when a Hindu procession on Hanuman Jayanti was attacked with stones, bottles and gunshots by a Muslim mob. 

OpIndia reached the ground and had comprehensive coverage of the demolition drive to get a good understanding of the situation in the area. The entire purpose of the campaign was to demolish the illegally constructed structures in the region. However, because the Supreme Court halted the destruction, a major part of the unlawful structure still remains in the locality.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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