Jahangirpuri Demolition: SC to take “serious view of demolitions after Mayor was informed of order”

Supreme Court extends status quo orders for another two weeks

Supreme CourtImage Courtesy:thestatesman.com

On April 21, 2022, the Supreme Court heard the petition filed by Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind against demolition drive in Jahangirpuri and other states, namely – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, and extended the status quo orders on the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri for another two weeks. On being pressed by one of the petitioners for a stay on all such demolition all over the country, the Bench said that if selective, unlawful demolitions continue anywhere else, they should be brought to the court’s notice after which it would step in.

The bench comprising of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai issued notice to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) in the petition filed by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and sought its counter-affidavit within two weeks.

The Bench also issued notice to the Union of India and the States of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat on another petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind against the authorities in different states resorting to demolition of houses of persons accused in crimes. The petition will be listed after two weeks.

Yesterday, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioners had urgently mentioned the matter before a bench led by the Chief Justice of India who then ordered a status quo on demolitions until further orders. Dave brought to the Court’s attention that the case raised far reaching questions of constitutional and national importance. He said, “They (NDMC) knew we will mention at 10.30 am (on Wednesday) and that is why demolition began at 9 am. They continued even after the status quo order was passed.” 

When Justice LN Rao asked what was of national importance in this matter since it concerned only an area, Advocate Dave pointed out to the instances from other parts of the country, in the recent past, where it seemed like it has become a ‘State policy’ to demolish the properties belonging to the accused in the communal riots using bulldozers. He reportedly asked, “How is it that bulldozers have become an instrument of state policy?”

He further argued, “This is not an issue confined to Jahangirpuri. It is a matter affecting social fabric of our country. Particular section of society is being targeted. I’ll read Ambedkar and Saradar Patel on this, how they spoke of this eventuality. This is the warning they gave. If this is allowed, there will be no rule of law left. How is it that the President of the BJP writes a letter to the Municipal Commissioner to start demolitions and they demolish after that? Delhi Act has a provision for notice wherein a notice of 5-15 days is a must and there is provision for appeals too. Look at the Olga Tellis case also and how SC protected the rights.”

Highlighting the fact that only one area and one community was targeted despite there being 731 unauthorised colonies in Delhi with 50 lakhs people, Dave said, “Please see the Preamble of the Delhi Municipality Act, where it is noted how there has been immense migration to Delhi and how changes have occurred beyond the Delhi Master plan.” He further added, “All homes in Jahangirpuri are more than 30 years old and shops are 50 years old. How can this be allowed in a democratic country?”

Stressing upon the fact that the demolition drive was nothing but an act to harass particular section of the society he argued, “You have destroyed homes. Who should be held accountable? These are poor people. If you want to remove encroachments, come to Sainik Farms. Come to Golf Links, where I stay, and every second home is an encroachment somewhere, but you don’t touch it at all.” He further added, “Even otherwise court has dealt with this, right to life is right to shelter. You can’t remove people without notice. This is precisely what we are against, Law of the Jungle.”

Dave requested the Bench to refer to Section 343 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act which states that no order of demolition can be passed without giving a reasonable opportunity of hearing to the person. Expressing his concern, he further stated, “A letter was written by BJP’s President to the Mayor. His wish became the command. Police and civil authorities are bound by the Constitution and not by letters written by a BJP leader. It speaks on a sad commentary on us as a nation”

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, continued the arguments in favour of the petitioners with respect to the second petition filed by them. Disapproving the encroachments, he stated that the Muslim minority is being associated with the encroachment. When Justice Rao questioned if none of the Hindu properties were demolished, Sibal submitted, “Some isolated instances. My plea is that such instances are happening in other states also. When processions are carried out and frictions occur, homes of only one community are bulldozed and politics in power judges what happens or not happens. Look at Madhya Pradesh where minister says that if Muslims do such a thing, they cannot expect justice. Who decides that? Who gave him that power? Somebody is in jail his house was demolished. I’ve photos where people from a community were gated and their houses were demolished. What’s this process, to instil fear and to side-line rule of law? You can’t connect encroachments to one community! Encroachments aren’t limited to A and B community. You can’t just demolish houses saying they are encroached. This forum is to show that rule of law prevails.”

Sibal sought a stay on demolition all over the country but the Court refused to impose such a blanket ban. When Sibal requested for a stay on the particular demolition drive at Jahangirpuri, the Court said, “We will see.”

CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat moved the Supreme Court today challenging the demolition drive continued by the NDMC in Jahangirpuri despite the Court’s status quo orders. Senior Advocate PV Surendranath appearing for her pointed out that she informed the authorities who did not stop and continued the demolition drive until 12.45pm. He informed the Court that she had to physically stand to stop the process. Sr Adv Dave chipped in here to inform the Court that the demolition drive went on even though the NMDC Mayor told the media at 11 A.M that SC order will be complied with. When the Bench asked exactly when was the order communicated, Sibal submitted that the Advocate-on-Record MR Shamshad messaged the order via Whatsapp to the Mayor around 11 A.M, reported LiveLaw.

Ganesh Gupta, whose juice shop was bulldozed in the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri yesterday, also moved Supreme Court today seeking compensation from NDMC saying that his shop was authorized with all necessary licenses. Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for him said, “I was there, my shop was demolished even though I had all the papers. We demand compensation for such a demolition act which was illegal.”

Appearing for NDMC, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked Advocate Hegde to give him the papers proving the legality of Ganesh Gupta’s property. Regarding the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri, SG Mehta claimed that they have been trying to remove the encroachments on footpath and public roads since January. With respect to the alleged illegal buildings, he claimed that notices were issued, and said, “This is what happens when organisation comes here suddenly. I will show you instances when notice is not required and illegal structures were given the notice. Traders have moved HC last year and HC had itself ordered demolition. No individual is coming as they’ll have to show notices etc.”

With respect to the petitioner’s argument that only one community is targeted, SG Mehta stated, “This has become a pattern, whenever issue arises instead of individuals coming in, organisation file petition and entire spectrum jumps in. Allegation that one community is targeted is incorrect. In MP, Khargone, which has become topic of all debates. 88 affected parties are Hindus and 26 were Muslims, I’m sorry I’ve to bifurcate them, Govt doesn’t want to, I’m being compelled to.”

When SG Mehta submitted that there was no need to provide notice for demolishing stalls, chairs, tables etc from footpaths and roads according to the powers conferred upon the Municipal Commissioner, Justice Rao enquired if only stalls, chairs, tables were demolished in Jahangirpuri yesterday. Justice Gavai added, “To remove these you need a bulldozer? Statute provides for something to be done in a certain way, it also provides for appellate remedy, it provides time for 5-15 days.”

Justice Rao asked Sr Adv Hegde for Ganesh Gupta if he was issued notice before his establishment was demolished. Hegde denied receiving any notice contrary to SG Mehta’s claim that they were in fact provided a notice.

Justice Rao said, “We want affidavits from the petitioners on the notices if served and counter affidavits on the details of the demolition and till then status quo order will continue.” Responding to this SG Mehta said that once the Court entertains this plea, everyone will jump on the bandwagon. The Court said that they know where to stop.

Seeking clarification on the Court’s direction Sr Adv Sibal enquired about a stay order for bulldozing in other states with respect to the second petition, to which the bench responded, “You’re bringing to our notice what happened some time back and your apprehension is what will happen. Once we have passed orders in one case, you still think something will happen?” Nevertheless, he was directed to approach the Court in case any further demolition drives took place in other states, despite the court’s orders.

In the aftermath of the violence ensued from the procession of Hanuman Jayanti on Saturday and again on Monday, the BJP headed civic body, North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) wrote to the police on Tuesday seeking 400 police personnel including women police officials to maintain law and order as municipal authorities carried out a demolition drive against “encroachers” at the spot over the next two days. The bulldozers arrived in Jahangirpuri at 10 A.M today and started demolishing the properties in the area where communal clashes broke out on Saturday during a Hanuman Jayanti procession. The demolition drive continued for hours despite the Supreme Court’s status quo orders on such demolitions. CPM leader Brinda Karat had to stand strong against state machinery and literal heavy demolition machinery, block the bulldozer and wave the copy of a Supreme Court order at the authorities, to finally stop them from continuing the atrocious demolition drive.

The order dated April 21 will be updated shortly. Meanwhile, the order dated April 20 may be read here: 


Jahangirpuri demolition drive: Do Supreme Court orders mean nothing to the BJP ruled Municipal Corporation?
Brinda Karat stands tall in front of bulldozers at Jahangirpuri’s Tiananmen square moment
SC orders status quo on demolitions in Jahangirpuri
Bulldozing the law and homes of the Muslim marginalized: Gujarat
Madhya Pradesh’s Home Minister blames Muslims for Ram Navami day violence, justifies mass demolitions



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