Read Order: New Delhi Traders Association vs. New Delhi Municipal Corporation

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, October 19, 2021: The Delhi High Court recently issued a stern warning to the officers of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) as well as to the Delhi Police who have jurisdiction over the Connaught Place area, to ensure strict compliance of not only their scheme approved by the Supreme Court, but also the orders passed by the Supreme Court and by this Court.

A Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that rule of law has to prevail and they cannot allow the city to be taken over by illegal encroachers/ vendors, as such failure on the part of the respondent authorities (NDMC) in discharging their duties very severely and adversely impacts the rights of the citizens of the city, including their right to life, which includes the right to a healthy and clean environment.

The observation came pursuant to a petition preferred by the association of traders of shop owners/ operators in the Connaught Place (CP) area, i.e., Rajiv Chowk and Indira Chowk, seeking directions to the Respondents–NDMC to ensure that illegal hawking and squatting/ vending activities in No Hawking and No Vending areas of Connaught Place and Connaught Circus (known as Rajiv Chowk and Indira Chowk) area stop permanently and the said areas are kept free from encroachments by illegal hawkers and vendors/ squatters.

After considering the arguments, the Delhi HC observed that it is for the Corporation to decide how many officers are required to be posted to manage its affairs and discharge its statutory obligations in the area falling within its jurisdiction.

If more officers are required, it is for the respondent-Corporation to depute them and it is not for this Court to monitor the said aspect, added the Court.

The High Court therefore directed the Chairman, NDMC as well as the Executive Engineers of the NDMC having jurisdiction over the Connaught Place area, as well as the DCP of the area concerned and the SHO of the local police station to remain present on the next date i.e., November 8, 2021.

Status reports should be filed by the NDMC and the Delhi Police about the steps taken by them-not only to remove the encroachments, but also to ensure that the illegal encroachers and vendors do not return and the area is kept clean on a continuous basis, added the Court.

The Division Bench also made it clear that Respondent-NDMC should display permanent boards in the entire Rajiv Chowk and the Indira Chowk areas displaying the fact that the area is a no hawking and no vending zone.

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