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Supreme Court refuses to stay sealing drive in Capital

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday declined to act on the Centre's application to stay the ongoing sealing process targeted at unauthorised commercial premises in the Capital's residential areas. It asked the Centre instead to approach the Monitoring Committee appointed by the Court to examine the questions raised in the application.

The Bench of Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal and Justice C. K. Thakker directed the Monitoring Committee to submit a report by May 4 giving its prima facie view on the relief sought within the framework of the apex court judgment. The Bench made it clear that this direction to the Committee should not be construed as meaning that. sealing process should stop and added that the sealing should go on.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor-General G. E. Vahanvati submitted that of the 15 zones in Delhi only six had zonal plans while nine had none at all. Mr. Vahanvati said there had been a systemic failure for 40 years on the part of successive governments.

He said he was not suggesting that the sealing process should be stopped. "By this application the Centre was only suggesting a reasonable, proper and lasting solution to the problems genuinely being faced by all concerned sections of society."

At this stage, the Chief Justice asked the Solicitor-General, "By this application what is the message the Government wants to convey to the law-abiding citizens who had filed their affidavits to close down their shops by June 30?"

"The systemic failure is because of corruption," the Chief Justice added."There is a deliberate nexus between various departments and officers and it is a result of the process of appeasement. Such appeasement causes suffering to citizens."

Mr. Vahanvati conceded that the system had indeed broken down in Delhi and said:"I am not here to protect." The Chief Justice said: "Development had taken place in Delhi in flagrant violation of the laws and the High Court and Supreme Court judgments. It is the main source of corruption in Delhi. This type of working of the system must come to an end". "If some relief can be given without compromising with the rule of law and adherence to the spirit of the apex court order", that could be considered by the Monitoring Committee, the Chief Justice added. The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on May 5.

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