Defence Ministry not giving land to shift 99-yr-old school: AAP government to Delhi High Court

The AAP government has told the Delhi High Court that since the Centre was refusing to hand over land to shift a 99-year-old school, whose building is in a dilapidated state, the students studying there would be relocated to other schools from the next academic year.

At a meeting held on November 28 last pursuant to orders of the high court to work out a solution regarding the future of the school, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has asked the Directorate of Education (DoE) to shift the school to another site, the Delhi government has told the court.

In an affidavit placed before a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao, the DoE has said that in view of the stand taken by the MoD, it has no other option but to relocate the students to other schools in the next academic year.

It has urged the court to direct the ministry to provide an alternate piece of land to construct a school building or to hand over the site where it is located now.

According to the minutes, the MoD has said that the 99-year-old Rajputana Rifles Heroes Memorial Senior Secondary School was presently located on defence land which was not in accordance with the Cantonment Land Administration Rules.

The delegation representing the army and the ministry said no land was available to be handed over to the DoE to shift the school and suggested that students studying there be relocated to other schools being run by the state government in the cantonment area.

The MoD has also said that while the building has been repaired on orders of the high court, it has “outlived its fair life” and was “unsafe for habitation”.

The ministry has further said that the school can run in the building in the current academic year as it was about to end, but not after that.

The court had directed convening of a joint meeting of DoE and MoD while hearing a PIL by NGO Social Jurist which has alleged that the school, taken over by the Delhi government in 1975 and getting 100 per cent aid from it, was in a horrible condition.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal, appearing for the NGO, had earlier said around 450 students are studying in the school, built in 1919, and they have been unjustly deprived of adequate physical infrastructure and academic faculty.

The plea has said though the school is open for all, it mainly caters to the children of servants of military officials who are not in a position to educate their kids in private schools.

It has alleged that the school lacks basic amenities, including potable drinking water, functional toilets, science and computer labs, clean classrooms and proper boundary wall and several posts of teaching staff are lying vacant.

The petition has sought a direction that the existing building of the school be demolished and rebuilt as a state-of -the-art school.

SDMC shifting responsibility to trap and translocate monkeys : Delhi High Court

The AAP government told the Delhi High Court Tuesday that the South Delhi Municipal Corporation was shifting the responsibility of trapping and translocating monkeys from the city.

The Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) of Delhi government said the civic agency cannot abdicate its responsibility on the pretext of a letter which is not valid in respect of trapping the monkeys from habitation areas.

The CWW’s submission came in an affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao which listed the matter for further hearing on March 6.

“The contention of SDMC about the local body being not empowered to catch monkeys is not valid,” said the affidavit, filed through Delhi government additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal.

“By making such application, it is a move by the municipal corporation to shift the responsibility of trapping and translocation of monkeys from the inhabited areas and the civic agency cannot abdicate its responsibility on the pretext of a letter which is not valid in respect of trapping monkeys from habitation areas of Delhi,” it said.

It also stated that the monkeys in the inhabited areas in Delhi are commensal in nature and not those found in the wild and these commensal monkeys have evolved by adapting themselves to live close to human habitations and sustain on food provided by the residents of the nearby areas.

The court was informed that in pursuance to earlier direction, a meeting of all the concerned authorities was held under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary (Urban Development) on January 23.

The Delhi government said officials of all the civic agencies in the national capital had participated in the meeting and action points, which are to be followed, were decided to implement the judgement of the high court in tackling monkey menace here.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Meera Bhatia for directions to the authorities to take steps to deal with the menace of monkeys in the city.

The court had earlier noted that the problem of increasing monkey population was “aggravating with each passing day” and that the increase in simian numbers would not wait for testing of the oral vaccine for sterilising them.

NGO Wildlife SOS had earlier told the court that monkey population is rapidly increasing in urban areas due to the easy access to food, especially in garbage, as compared to forest areas where they have to forage for food.

The SDMC had earlier told the court that it “lacked the expertise” and was ill-equipped to catch monkeys.

Advocate Gaurang Kanth, appearing for the SDMC, had made the submission while seeking modification of the court’s 2007 direction to it to catch monkeys and relocate them in the Ridge area of the city.

The Delhi government, in the affidavit, added that that it had floated two tenders for catching and sterilising monkeys, but it found no takers.

It said it has been decided in the January meeting that in case the bid fails for the third time, the animal husbandry department may be assigned the job of earmarking at least one animal hospital within each MCDs and New Delhi Municipal Council to start the work of laparoscopic sterilisation of monkeys at least in four such identified hospitals.

The strength of doctors and other supporting staff may be enriched by the fund provided by Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), placed at the disposal of CWW, it said, adding that the animal husbandry department may strengthen infrastructure facilities for smooth process of sterilisation of simians.

The affidavit stated that entire cost of sterilisation and post sterilisation care would be met by the funds give by MoEF and there would not be any burden of Delhi government or civic agencies.

“The job of catching the monkeys, transporting them to animal hospital ear marked for sterilisation and then releasing them back to the same location would be done by the concerned civic agency under the supervision of enforcement committee headed by CWW,” it said.

It said that till the sterilisation process begins, the job of catching monkeys and releasing them in Asola Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary will be continued by the civic agencies as per the high court’s order.

The high court had earlier asked the Delhi government to come out with an alternative plan to reduce the increasing monkey population in the national capital if it was not finding any bidders for its tenders to sterilise the simians.

HC asks Centre, Delhi govt about steps taken on financial assistance to lawyers’ clerks

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre and the AAP government as to what steps they have taken to put in place schemes for providing financial assistance and funds to the clerks of lawyers working in various courts of the national capital.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao asked them to inform the court about the monetary and welfare schemes that can be made available to the clerks.

The court said it will take care of the issue of providing a designated room and other facilities for the clerks in the high court, and asked the Centre and Delhi government to give details of “the financial assistance and funds that can be made available to lawyers’ clerks”. 

With the direction, the court listed the matter for hearing on January 18, 2019.

The bench had earlier observed that clerks played an “important” role in the legal system.

The court was hearing a PIL moved by an association representing lawyers’ clerks seeking social security and welfare measures for them.

The petition, by the Delhi High Court Bar Clerks Association, has sought enforcement of several welfare measures like providing for provident fund, pensions and group insurance policies.

It has claimed that several states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh have already enacted a law to promote the welfare of clerks who have to depend on charity and donation of the advocates employing them.

The association, which represents over 20,000 lawyers’ clerks working in the various courts of the national capital, has contended that its members have been deprived of their fundamental rights, including right to medical benefits to a workman.

In its petition, the association has urged the court to direct the authorities to promote, safeguard and implement the clerks’ fundamental rights to social security and welfare measures.

Delhi govt informs about timeline in SC for removing traffic bottlenecks

New Delhi: The Delhi government today informed the Supreme Court about the timeline for removal of traffic bottlenecks at 77 “congested corridors” and said short term measures, like minor improvements in road geometrics to deal with the issue would take six to eight months.

Elaborating the measures for removing these bottlenecks, the AAP government said these have been categorised as “short term” and “long term” measures and also gave reasons for traffic congestion in the national capital.
In its affidavit filed in the top court, the Delhi government said that under the long-term measures, six months time would be taken for approval of schemes and sanction of estimates for construction of subways, foot over bridges (FoBs), underpasses and u-turns and after grant of approval, another 12 months would be needed for execution of work.

“It is submitted that the measures to remove the above mentioned bottlenecks are categorised as short term measures and long term measures. The short term measures like minor improvements in road geometrics etc would take six to eight months,” it said.

“However the long term measures like FOB/subway/underpass /u-turn etc would take six months for approval of the scheme and sanction of the estimates. Thereafter, 12 months for execution after approval,” the affidavit said.

Advocate Wasim A Qadri, appearing for the Delhi government, mentioned the matter today before a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta and said that they be allowed to file the affidavit. The bench allowed Qadri’s request.

In its affidavit, the Delhi government said that the task force has identified 77 “congested corridors” in the national capital and has put them in three categories.
It said that under category ‘A’, there were 28 highly congested corridors while category ‘B’ has 30 congested corridors.
The rest 19 “less congested” corridors were placed under category ‘C’, it said.
The Delhi government’s affidavit said that the Delhi Traffic Police has identified several “main causes” for congestion, which included encroachment on roads and on the footpaths, encroachment on central verge, illegal parking on roads, less width of roads, irregular pedestrian movement across roads and improper junction or intersection design.
The affidavit said that other causes of congestion were — parking of vehicle on narrow lanes leading to petrol pumps and CNG stations, presence of trees, toilet and other structures infringing with traffic movement, non-availability of FoBs, subways, pedestrian crossings, u-turns, underpasses for vehicular movement and improper road geometrics.

“It is humbly submitted that the above mentioned timeline is for the remaining long term projects. The answering respondent (Delhi government) has already filed the list of certain long term projects for decongestion of Delhi road (like construction of flyovers/underpass etc) which have been completed in earlier affidavit,” it said.

The apex court had on July 9 took umbrage that there was no appearance on behalf of Delhi Government during the hearing and no substantive status report was filed by them as per May 10 order asking them to file status report indicating the time-line for removal of traffic bottlenecks.

“There are several bottlenecks which need to be taken care of in respect of traffic issues but it appears that the government of Delhi is not at all concerned with this issue,” the bench had said in its July 9 order.
The court ad adjourned the matter on July 9 subject to payment of cost of Rs 1 lakh by the Delhi government.
In its affidavit filed today, the Delhi government said that due to “some communication gap” a representation on their behalf could not be made before the bench on July 9.
It has said that cost of Rs one lakh has been deposited by them “well within time”.
The bench was earlier informed that six task forces have been set up to look into the issue of traffic bottlenecks in several corridors in Delhi.
Delhi government had told the bench that such corridors have been classified under three categories and at present, steps were being taken with respect to 11 out of 28 corridors falling under category A.

High Court: Make North Campus pavements disabled friendly in 4 weeks

The Delhi High Court today directed the AAP government, police and municipal corporation of north Delhi to take immediate action to make pavements in Delhi University’s North Campus disabled friendly within four weeks.

The high court issued the direction after noting that pavements on the campus were “clearly inaccessible” to people with disabilities, especially those who were visually impaired, because of obstacles such as traffic lights, police posts, trees and shops in the middle of footpaths.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar made the observation after examining photographs and a report filed by a non-profit organisation which works on health and education facilities for people with disabilities and the underprivileged.

The organisation had inspected 40 sites on the campus on the orders of the court to ascertain whether pavements were accessible to the disabled, especially the visually impaired.

After going through the photographs and the report, the court noted that a majority of the obstructions were “bang in the middle” of the tactile paths meant for the visually impaired, which could lead to injuries, and at some places hand rails were installed “randomly and aimlessly”.

The court said the obstructions showed the “disinterested attitude” of the authorities who were not bothered about matters such as tactile markings because these benefited only a small section of the population.

In its order, the bench directed the Delhi government’s Public Works Department (PWD), the corporation and the police to interact with the Chief Architect (Roads) of the New Delhi Municipal Council and come out with a plan to ensure the streets and pavements of North Campus were made disabled-friendly within four weeks.

It asked the non-profit organisation, Nipman Foundation, to re-inspect the sites after four weeks.

On payment to the Foundation for its work, the corporation cited reservations in disbursing Rs 10,000 to each of the eight member of the team which had carried out the inspection.

This led the court to remark that the corporation was “cribbing over Rs 80,000”.

The bench then directed the PWD, corporation and DU to pay Rs 30,000 each to the Foundation for its services, saying it was the responsibility of the three authorities to ensure the streets and pavements of North Campus were disabled friendly.

The directions and observations by the court came while hearing a PIL alleging that the tactile markings on pavements on the campus, especially outside prominent colleges such as the Hindu College, were obstructed by police posts, bus stops, trees, poles, holes, hoardings and signboards.

The petition sought that the campus be made more disabled friendly.

Don’t fight wars when citizens’ health is at stake: Delhi High Court today told the AAP government.

The Delhi High Court today told the AAP government it can fight its “wars” whichever way it wants, but not with the health of the people, as some municipal bodies alleged they were not getting funds from the Delhi administration to pay their cleaning staff, hospitals and doctors.

The municipal corporations of north and east Delhi told a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar that they needed funds to ensure cleanliness in their areas and had urged the Delhi government for a loan of over Rs 480 crore.

Noting that diseases, especially those like dengue, malaria and chikungunya which are vector-borne, spread due to lack of cleanliness, the bench asked the Delhi government to indicate on the next date the status of the loans sought by the north and east Delhi municipal corporations.

The court was hearing two PILs filed by advocates Arpit Bhargava and Gauri Grover seeking directions to the authorities to take steps to prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases in the national capital.

The issue assumes significance as in the first two months of 2018, six cases of dengue, two of malaria and one of chikungunya have already been reported from Delhi.

While hearing the PILs, the court had also looked into the issue of solid waste management and was of the view that garbage and lack of cleanliness contributed to the spread of the vector-borne diseases.

It had, thereafter, ordered framing of waste management bye-laws and on the last date of hearing asked the corporations how these rules were being implemented and what was its impact.

The corporations today told the bench that they have uploaded the bye-laws on their respective web sites and are also imposing fines on those violating these rules. They also said they have collected lakhs of rupees in fines for violation of the sanitary rules and the bye-laws.

The bench, however, said that imposing of fines has to be a “continuous” process as “people only understand penalties” and it may be the only method to change the mind set of the citizens. It told the corporations to work “vigorously” and not wait for the diseases to spread before swinging into action.

The north and east MCDs, however, said they want funds from the Delhi government to pay their cleaning staff, who are at the top of the “pecking order” where disbursement of wages was concerned.

The EDMC’s Commissioner, who was present in court, told the bench that without funds, it cannot pay its employees and most of them have not been paid for two months.

He said the Delhi government was yet to implement the recommendations of the Fourth Delhi Finance Commission.

When the bench asked the Delhi government to consider releasing the loan amounts sought by the north and east MCDs, it said that even it needed funds from the Centre.

To this, the court told the Delhi government lawyer to file a petition if it lacked in funds and added “You can fight your wars whichever way you want, but you cannot fight it with the health of citizens at stake.”

The court had on the last date of hearing also rapped the Delhi government, saying “It is always you (the Delhi government) versus the Centre, the corporations, some statutory authority. It has to be only versus? Can’t you work together”.
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Spread awareness on rights of senior citizens: Delhi HC to AAP govt

Spread awareness on rights of senior citizens: Delhi HC to AAP govt
Spread awareness on rights of senior citizens: Delhi HC to AAP govt

The Delhi High Court today asked the AAP-led city government to run an awareness programme on the rights and protection available to senior citizens, on the lines of the pan-India ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also suggested to the authorities to place frequent advertisements in mass media like televisions, radios and newspapers for the benefit of senior citizens in distress.

“You need to do a little bit of publicity in this regard.

The people do not know of their rights. The frequency of the advertisements should be like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

“If you do (ads) on Doordarshan (broadcasting television network), whole of Bharat will know about it,” the bench said.

The court’s direction came during hearing of a plea by a Delhi-based social activist — Hemant Goswami — who has sought resumption of the Maintenance Tribunals and Appellate Tribunals, constituted under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

The petitioner has claimed that the tribunals were paralysed.

The plea has also sought a direction to the Delhi government for expeditious appointment of members to ensure proper and complete constitution of the Appellate Tribunal and Maintenance Tribunals within a specified time limit.

It had also sought advertisement of the various schemes meant for senior citizens.

The bench, thereafter, issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government and directed them to take action with regard to issuing advertisements on a mass level.

The bench also directed the authorities to place before it the proposed action plan on the issue before the next date of hearing i.e. January 30.

( Source – PTI )

Place rules on registration numbers of VVIP cars: HC to govt

Place rules on registration numbers of VVIP cars: HC to govt
Place rules on registration numbers of VVIP cars: HC to govt

The Delhi High Court today asked the Centre and the AAP government to place before it the rules regarding display of just the State Emblem of India on the cars of the constitutional authorities and dignitaries, such as the President, instead of their registration numbers.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed both the governments to check the position and inform it before the next date of hearing, December 20.

“There must be some protocol/rule with regard to the issue raised in the writ petition. Please ascertain the exact position and inform this court,” the bench said.

The court’s directions came on a plea seeking to enforce the display of registration number on cars of constitutional authorities and dignitaries.

The petition, filed by an NGO, claimed that the practice of displaying the state emblem, the four lions, instead of the registration numbers, make the cars conspicuous and the dignitaries become easy targets for terrorists and anyone with malicious intent.

“The practice of replacing the registration mark with the State Emblem of India, instead of displaying them both is arbitrary and symptomatic of the desire to rule rather than to serve,” the petition has alleged.

The plea, filed by NGO Nyayabhoomi, also sought direction to the Delhi government and Delhi Police to seize the cars used by the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Vice President, Raj Niwas and Protocol division of the Ministry of External Affairs for not being registered under the Motor Vehicles Act.

The plea referred to an RTI response by the Ministry of External Affairs saying that none of its 14 cars maintained by its protocol division were registered.

On the other hand, the plea claimed that the Rashtrapati Bhawan refused to supply the registration numbers of its cars on the ground that disclosure of this information would endanger the security of the state and life and physical safety of the President.

It said a person meeting with an accident involving such a car cannot bring any claim against it as due to the absence of any identification mark, the vehicle’s ownership cannot be known and the citizens get the message that if a dignitary could disobey the law and get away with it, so could they.

It also sought prosecution of the owners of cars being used by such dignitaries in a time-bound manner and sought a direction to the ministries of home affairs and external affairs to register the cars used by the dignitaries and obtain their insurance policies.

( Source – PTI )

Steps taken to evict encroachers from 990 Waqf plots: HC told

Steps taken to evict encroachers from 990 Waqf plots: HC told
Steps taken to evict encroachers from 990 Waqf plots: HC told

The AAP government today told the Delhi High Court it was taking steps to enforce the pending eviction orders against encroachers of 990 Waqf properties in the national capital.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar was also informed by Delhi government that the officers will be directed to take action against the encroachers.

“The Divisional Commissioner will have interface through video-conferencing with all the District Magistrates and the Sub Divisional Magistrates and other concerned revenue authorities to take a call for execution of order passed under the Waqf Act to remove encroachments,” Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Naushad Ahmed Khan said.

The court listed the matter for hearing on January 22.

Earlier the bench had directed the Delhi government, Waqf Board and other authorities to file an action taken report (ATR) with regard to the recovery of properties, failing which it “shall be compelled to initiate action against the officer concerned of the area”.

The court had issued the direction during the hearing of a PIL filed by advocate Shahid Ali on 990 waqf properties, claiming these have already been ordered to be vacated from illegal and unauthorised occupation of encroachers under the Waqf Act, but the concerned sub-divisional magistrates were not enforcing the orders.

Earlier, the court had asked the counsel for the Revenue Authority, under which all sub-divisional magistrates of Delhi fall, why were the Waqf laws framed and what was their utility if there was no intention to enforce them.

The counsel in his plea said that between 2006 and 2013, SDMs had been requested to get the properties vacated through police circle officers.

Earlier, these officers had the power to get the properties vacated, but through an amendment in 2013 in the Waqf Act, this right was transferred to the Waqf tribunal, the plea has said.

( Source – PTI )

Constitution provides restriction on Delhi’s legislative

Constitution provides restriction on Delhi's legislative
Constitution provides restriction on Delhi’s legislative

The Supreme Court today said the Constitution provided restrictions on legislative powers of the Union Territory of Delhi amid claims of the AAP government that Parliament’s power to override legislative authority of the states was an “emergency” power.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which is hearing pleas on who enjoys supremacy in governing the national capital, referred to Article 239AA and said though the Delhi Assembly has the power to legislate on certain subjects under state and concurrent lists while Parliament also has the power to legislate with respect to “any matter” of the Union Territory of Delhi.

“There are restrictions on the power of the Delhi Assembly to legislate,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said.

Senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Arvind Kejriwal government, said Parliament has the power to override Delhi Assembly, but this is the “emergency legislative power”.

Unlike UTs like Puducherry, Delhi has been given powers by the Constitution and its powers are not a “gift from Parliament”, he said, adding that the constitutional provisions provided that the Delhi assembly “shall have the power to make laws on some subjects under state list and on all subjects under the concurrent list”.

The senior lawyer referred to other constitutional schemes and said that if there was no exclusivity attached to a subject, Parliament would have the power to make laws and if a subject fell under the exclusive domain of the states, the Union government could not the have the legislative powers.

The bench said that with regard to Delhi’s legislative powers, the state and concurrent lists have been merged into one where the state and Union both have legislative powers.

“Does it not mean that more powers have been conferred on Parliament,” the bench asked.

Parliament has been given overriding powers under Article 239AA so that it was not “helpless if the state Assembly passes a ridiculous law”, Dhavan said.

He said that Delhi has a “responsible government” and not a “representative government” like Puducherry as it derived power from the Constitution.

On the issue of limitations on Delhi’s legislative and executive powers, the senior lawyer said that there were restrictions on powers of the Centre and states as well and “the question is are these limitations are so wide? The answer is no”.

He then referred to powers conferred on Panchayats and said, “If a government has to act purely on the basis of law then a government cannot govern…executive power rides with the legislative power.”

Every executive function and power cannot be provided in law, he said, adding that the elected chief minister has executive powers.

The bench said the issue was on a narrow compass as to what could happen in case of difference of opinion between the lieutenant governor and the chief minister and the council of ministers.

It also said that as far as the legislative arena was concerned there was no dispute on the powers of the Centre and Delhi government.

Dhavan said, “The court will have to decide who (Delhi or the Centre) has the primary executive powers.”

The arguments remained inconclusive and would resume on November 21.

Earlier, the apex court had raised a question whether the constitutional scheme on division of executive powers between the Centre and the states can be made applicable to the Union Territory of Delhi.

The Delhi government had accused the LG of making a “mockery of democracy” and said that he was either taking decisions of an elected government or substituting them without having any power.

The court is hearing a batch of appeals filed by the AAP government challenging the Delhi High Court verdict holding that the LG was the administrative head of the national capital.

( Source – PTI )