The court directed the Chairman, as well as, the Executive Engineers of the NDMC having jurisdiction over the Connaught Place area, as well as the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of the area concerned and the Station House Officer (SHO) of the local police station to remain present before the court on the next date on November 8.
The court also asked NDMC and the Delhi Police to file status reports 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.
The court also asked the respondent NDMC to 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.
The court noted that the authorities like NDMC are very efficient when it comes to writing letters and keeping their "record" straight, however, they have miserably failed while discharging their obligations on the ground.
The court said that it is not satisfied with the mere paper exercise that the respondent claims to have undertaken. "In our view, such an exercise is merely undertaken to shun responsibility by the officers, and pass the buck on," it said.
The court, therefore, issued a stern warning to both - the officers of the NDMC as well as to the Delhi Police who have jurisdiction over the Connaught Place area, i.e. Rajiv Chowk and Indira Chowk, to ensure strict compliance of not only their scheme approved by the Supreme Court, but also the orders passed by the top court and by this court.
"There should be zero tolerance shown by them, and all hawkers, vendors - except the original 80 odd vendors - as stated by Mr. Peechara, should be removed bag and baggage. The rule of law has to prevail, and we cannot allow the city to be taken over by illegal encroachers/ vendors. Such failure on the part of the respondent authorities 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 court said.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the New Delhi Traders Association - which is the association of traders of shop owners/operators in the Connaught Place (CP) area, i.e., Rajiv Chowk and Indira Chowk. The petitioner has preferred the present writ petition to seek directions to the respondents 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.
The petitioners also seek a direction that once removed, the hawkers do not resurface.
Senior Advocate Sanjeev Ralli with lawyers Mohit Mudgal, Shivani Rautela and Devavrat Joshi were appearing for the petitioner association.
Advocate Harsha Peechara, appearing for NDMC, told the court that there are about 80 hawkers, who were issued Tehbazari, within the entire Connaught Place area.
Advocate Peechara submitted that the respondent corporation has only two
engineers assigned to look after the entire Connaught Place area, and he
submits that the squatting and vending activity start in the later part of the day,
i.e. after the working hours of the officers of the respondent corporation.
"We find these submissions to be completely unacceptable. It is for the respondent Corporation to manage its affairs, and it cannot express its helplessness for the aforesaid reasons. It is for the respondent 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, " the court said. (ANI)