SC refuses to pass interim order staying demolitions across states

NEW DELHI, July 13:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to pass an interim direction staying 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 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, 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.
“We don’t want this culture. Lordships will have to decide for once and all. They have to act in accordance with 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,” Dave said while seeking an interim stay direction on the demolitions.
The senior lawyer submitted 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 with the locus of the petitioners.
“Replies have been filed by authorities that the procedure was followed and notices were issued. The demolition process started much before 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,” Mehta said.
He opposed 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 on rule of law but the factual edifice may be a little “wobbly”.
He said the apex court cannot 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.
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 such exercise is done only after adequate notice.
The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind had earlier filed the plea on the issue of demolition of buildings in 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. (PTI)