14 Oct 2023 7:32 AM GMT
the the The Supreme Court has constituted a Judicial Committee with two retired judges to deal with the challenges to the orders passed by the Monitoring Committee in relation to sealing/desealing of properties in Delhi.The members of the Committee are : 1) Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, retired Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and 2) Justice G.S. Sistani, retired Judge of the Delhi...
the the The Supreme Court has constituted a Judicial Committee with two retired judges to deal with the challenges to the orders passed by the Monitoring Committee in relation to sealing/desealing of properties in Delhi.
The members of the Committee are : 1) Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, retired Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and 2) Justice G.S. Sistani, retired Judge of the Delhi High Court.
In an order passed last month, the Court said that the Judicial Committee will have jurisdiction to hear a challenge to the orders, decisions and recommendations of both the Monitoring Committees constituted by the Supreme Court vide orders dated 24.03.2006 and 07.05.2004 resulting in action by the Municipal Corporations and Regulatory Committees.
The subject matters are as under:
i) Sealing and de-sealing of properties;
ii) Regularization and/or levy of penalties or conversion charges;
iii) Demolition of unauthorized construction; and
(iv) Directing the removal of encroachment.
The Monitoring Committee was constituted by the Supreme Court way back in 2004 in the MC Mehta v. Union of India case to deal with the rampant unauthorized and illegal use of residential areas for commercial and industrial purposes in the National Capital Region. By order dated 07.05.2004, a Monitoring Committee was appointed to end the unauthorized and illegal industrial activity in residential and non-conforming areas.
The Court felt compelled to constitute the Judicial Committee as it was inundated with applications challenging the orders passed by the Monitoring Committees. This meant that the Supreme Court was called upon to act as a fact-finding court. Also, over the time, the number of such applications filed in the Supreme Court shot up, and the Court was finding it difficult to address the factual aspects raised in them.
Explaining the need for a Judicial Committee to deal with the challenge to the orders of the Monitoring Committee, the bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia said :
"Such a Judicial Committee is necessary to be empowered to analyze all aspects of the matter, i.e., what is the nature of allotment, whether there is any change of the policy of that allotment, what according to the norms prevalent is permissible and what are the nature of violation and in view thereof pass necessary orders. The power to direct compounding on payment of charges, if compliance is possible under existing norms, is also an aspect which must vest with the Committee."
The Court clarified that the Committee will have all the necessary powers to perform the necessary functions. It further specified that inter alia they would also have the following powers :
(i) To summon and enforce the attendance of any person and examine him;
(ii) To require the discovery and production of any documents, and
(iii) To requisition any public record or copy thereof from any office.
As to what is the prerequisite of approaching the Committee, the Court said that only such of the persons who have deposited the charges with the Monitoring Committee would not be required to pay another set of charges but such of them who have not paid would be required to pay the charges with the Committee pari materia to what others have paid to the Committee.
As far as the directions for de-sealing are concerned, the directions of the Judicial Committee shall be implemented forthwith even if there are reservations of the Monitoring Committee which can of course file its application, as would be the case, on rejection of the applications of the private parties by the Judicial Committee.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi agreed to make arrangements at its cost for the infrastructure and personnel required for the working of the Judicial Committee.
"All necessary arrangement should be made to facilitate the commencement of the proceedings before the Judicial Committee within a period of two weeks from today," the Court stated in the order passed on September 13.
In a subsequent order passed on October 13, the Court warned the New Delhi Municipal Corporation of contempt action for not implementing the orders for de-sealing passed by the Committee.
"In our order dated 13.09.2022, while constituting the Judicial Committee, we had made it clear that insofar as directions for de-sealing are concerned, a direction of the Judicial Committee shall be implemented forthwith even if there are reservations of the Monitoring Committee which can of course file its application, as would be the case," the Court said.
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 886
Click here to read the order