Outgoing CJI Gogoi declines requests for interviews and lauds media for maturity in trying times of Supreme Court.

Outgoing Chief Justice India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Friday expressed his inability to have one-to-one interview with scribes and lauded the press for its “maturity” and “character” in preventing “canards and falsehood” in “trying times” of the judiciary.

Justice Gogoi, the 46th CJI and the first from a north-eastern state, said it was not the requirement of the Supreme Court that judges “reach out to our citizenry through the press”.

“Such outreach (to the press) ought to be symbolic of an extraordinary situation demanding an exception to the norm,” said Justice Gogoi who would demit office on November 17, a Sunday.

Justice Gogoi and three other senior most apex court judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph had held an unprecedented press conference on January 12, 2018 alleging that the administration and allocation of cases in the apex court, then headed by the then CJI Dipak Misra, was “not in order”.

In a three-page common letter to journalists, the CJI declined the request for interviews and said: “I would not be able to meet your request for a one-to-one meet.”

The letter said: “I am keen that you would appreciate that the ordinary freedoms are finely balanced in our institutional functioning – while you have the Bar whose members can exercise their freedom of speech to the extent of even pushing the boundaries of such freedom, the bench requires its judges to maintain silence, while exercising their freedoms.

“This is not to say that Judges do not speak. They do speak, but only out of functional necessity, and no more. Bitter truth must remain in memory.”

The CJI lauded the role of media for its reportage during the “trying times” of the apex judicial institution.

“Good press is also a parameter amongst others that is known to be indicative of our institutional health. In such view, I do wish to put on record that by and large, the press corps has been kind to my office as well as to our institution during my tenure at the helm of the institution.

“Even during trying times. When our institution was keeping an ambush or two at bay, most members of the press displayed maturity and character ad exercised exceptional discretion to prevent canards and falsehood from clogging the news space,” the letter said.

Justice Gogoi said that as a public functionary, who was entrusted with onerous Constitutional duties to perform, the idea of “courting the press” never came as a choice for him in the interest of the institution.

“I chose to belong to an institution whose strength lay in public confidence and trust earned not through good press, but through our work as Judges on the bench.

“In fact, our work-places are, by our functional necessity, required to be public places as justice is ordained to be delivered in presence of ordinary citizens to ensure that it is never far removed from them. In that view, our institutional connect and interface with the citizenry is proximate,” the letter said.

Though the CJI is officially retiring on November 17, a Sunday, Friday was his last working day.

Supreme Court voices displeasure at defence ministry: Manipur ‘fake’ encounters

The Supreme Court has expressed its displeasure that the Ministry of Defence has “not even bothered” to respond to the letters addressed to it by the CBI’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) that is probing the alleged extra-judicial killings and fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and police in Manipur.

A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit asked the SIT to conclude by June 30 its investigations in the cases related to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), judicial inquiries and those on which the Gauhati High court had given its findings.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for the CBI, told the bench that he would take up the matter with the Ministry of Defence to ensure necessary cooperation.

“We have also seen from status report no. five (filed by the SIT) that letters have been addressed by the SIT to the Ministry of Defence in some cases as far back as in February, 2018 but the Ministry of Defence has not even bothered to respond to those letters,” the bench noted in its order.

“The ASG says he will take it up with the Ministry of Defence and ensure that necessary cooperation is extended and letters will be responded with promptitude. We expect the Ministry of Defence to fully cooperate with the SIT,” the court said and listed the matter for hearing on July 2.

Singh told the court that the SIT would give a list of documents to the chief secretary and director general of police (DGP) of Manipur to ensure that all the materials were made available to the probe team or at least, an explanation on which documents were not available and why was given.

“We would require this to be done in a time-bound manner,” the bench observed, while noting that in the status report filed by the SIT, there were several entries concerning non-supply of documents by the police and other agencies.

The apex court directed the in-charge of the SIT, Sharad Aggarwal, to furnish the list within a week and said it expected that the chief secretary and DGP of the north-eastern state would respond to it “positively within three weeks”.

“On the basis of the material on record i.e. the report of the CFSL (Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory) and documents and statements of witnesses, we expect the SIT to conclude the investigations by June 30, 2018 in respect of cases pertaining to Table II (judicial inquiry and high court cases) and III (NHRC) and file the final report under section 173, CrPC,” the court said.

As many as 31 FIRs have been lodged by the SIT under the category of cases in Tables II and III.

During the hearing, the CFSL director assured the court that the reconstruction of the crime scene would be done expeditiously and he would ensure that the tasks pending with the department were completed at the earliest.

The apex court had earlier directed the SIT to expedite its probe into the alleged fake encounters, which had come under the scanner of the NHRC, the Gauhati High Court and some commissions of inquiry.

The court had, on February 12, expressed its displeasure over the progress of the SIT probe in these cases and observed that something was “terribly wrong”.

The court, which is hearing a PIL seeking a probe into as many as 1,528 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur, had on July 14 last year set up the SIT and ordered registration of FIRs and a probe into the alleged extra-judicial killings in the north-eastern state.

Supreme Court concerned about overcrowding in prisons, asks HCs to look into issue

The Supreme Court has expressed concern about overcrowding in prisons across the country, in some cases beyond 150 per cent of the capacity, and asked all the high courts to consider the issue as it involves “violation of human rights”.

The supreme court requested the chief justices of the high courts to take up the matter as a suo-motu (on its own) writ petition and referred to a note given by an advocate, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, in this regard.

“It appears from the note given by amicus curiae that the issue of overcrowding in prisons is not being taken seriously by the prison authorities. There are several prisons where the overcrowding is well beyond 100 per cent and in some cases it exceeds 150 per cent,” a bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

“In our opinion, this matter should be considered by each high court independently with the assistance of the State Legal Services Authority/High Court Legal Services Committee so that there is some sanity in the overcrowding in prisons since it involves violation of human rights,” it said.

The bench asked the apex court’s secretary general to send a copy of its order to the registrar general of every high court for necessary steps and report back to it.

The apex court also dealt with the issue of vacancy of staff in jails and observed that “little interest” was being shown by the authorities and state governments in recruiting staff in prisons.

It asked the chief justice of each high court to also take up this issue as a suo-motu writ petition.

Meanwhile, the Centre informed the bench that the Ministry of Women and Child Development was conducting a study through the National Commission for Women and the National Law University on women prisoners and their children and it would be completed by June 30.

The government said that the ministry would look into the study and take necessary steps within three weeks.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on August 2.

The Centre also apprised the court that steps were being taken to encourage setting up of ‘open prisons’ and a model uniform rules for the administration of open correctional institutions have already been framed.

Semi-open prisons or open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in the evening.

The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with the society and reduce their psychological pressure as they faced lack of confidence in leading normal lives outside.

During the hearing, the amicus informed the apex court that there were 63 open prisons across the country but the existing capacity was not being fully utilised.

“We expect the state governments concerned to not only try and utilise the existing capacity of these open prisons and if necessary increase the existing capacity of these open prisons in due course of time. The state governments and Union Territory administrations should also seriously consider the feasibility of establishing open prisons in as many locations as possible,” the bench said.

Regarding undertrial review committees, the bench was informed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) that a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the committee was ready.

These committees, set up in every district, deliberates and recommends the release of undertrials and convicts who have undergone their sentences or are entitled to be released from jail due to bail or remission granted to them.

The amicus said that he would look into it and might have some further discussions with the NALSA and the SOP would be finalised by June 30.

“As soon as the SOP is finalised, it should be circulated to all the district judges and undertrial review committees for implementation. If and when there are some constraints in the implementation of the SOP, it should be brought to the notice of NALSA so that necessary or corrective measures can be taken,” the court said.

The bench was also told that the Bureau of Police Research and Development has prepared some training manuals for prison officers and prison warders.

The apex court had earlier taken strong exception to overcrowded jails and said that prisoners also have human rights and they cannot be kept in jail like “animals”.

The court, which is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country, had earlier passed a slew of directions over unnatural deaths in jails and on prison reforms across India.

Supreme Court: Open up Eastern Expressway for public by May 31

The Supreme Court today directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to throw open the Eastern Peripheral Expressway for the public by May 31, asking why were they “waiting” for its inauguration by the Prime Minister.

The apex court said if the 135-km expressway, which envisages signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal, is not inaugurated on or before May 31, it should be thrown open for public who were facing traffic congestion in Delhi.

The Eastern and the Western Peripheral Expressways were planned in 2006 following the top court’s order to build a ring road outside the national capital for channelling the traffic not bound for Delhi. The apex court had asked the Centre in 2005 to build the expressway around Delhi by July 2016 to decongest and “de-pollute” the national capital.

Today, the directions by the bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta came after it was informed by the NHAI counsel that the construction work was complete.

When the counsel said it was earlier scheduled to be inaugurated on April 29 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi but could not be done due to his prior commitments, the bench asked “why don’t you inaugurate it?”

The court also said, “According to the newspapers, the Prime Minister will not be here tomorrow and day after tomorrow”.

The bench also observed that it was earlier informed that the work of expressway was complete and it was likely to be inaugurated on or before April 20.

In a connected development soon after the court expressed anguish over the delay in opening of the expressway, Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari came out with a statement saying the expressway was almost ready to be inaugurated.

“Earlier there was little delay as a railway road overbridge could not be completed. Now that work has almost been completed. We are seeking time from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it will soon be inaugurated,” Gadkari said.

During the hearing in the apex court, the NHAI counsel also said the ministry has sent a request to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for this.

Advocate Aparajita Singh, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, told the bench that the people of Delhi were reeling under pollution and traffic problems and the NHAI should open the expressway for public use.

“Why you are waiting for it? You open it,” the bench told the NHAI’s counsel who again said it would be inaugurated by the Prime Minister.

To this, the bench said, “That is the problem. The High Court of Meghalaya was not inaugurated, but it is functioning for the last five years there. You cannot pass on the buck and say PMO, PMO only”.

The amicus requested the court that expressway should be open for public and inauguration could be done later. She said “I think even the PMO will not have any objection”.

The NHAI counsel assured the apex court that the Eastern Peripheral Expressway would be inaugurated by May 29.

“The NHAI shall ensure that the inauguration takes place on or before May 31, failing which it will be thrown open for public as Delhi is under traffic congestion and any delay in opening of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway will not in the interest of people of Delhi,” the bench said.

In a jocular vein, Justice Lokur asked the NHAI that the expressway could also be inaugurated by Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni, who was present, saying he had taken a lot of pain in this case. This led to peals of laughter in the courtroom.

Meanwhile, the counsel for Haryana government, informed the bench that 81 per cent work of the 135-km Western Peripheral Expressway was complete and the private entity doing the work has assured that construction would be completed by June 30.

According to the timeline, work on Western Peripheral Expressway, which connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana, was to be completed by February 2019 but the construction would be completed by June this year, the counsel said.

“Then you will say the Prime Minister will inaugurate it so wait,” the bench said and asked Haryana government to ensure that the private concessionaire, involved in the work, sticks to its date of completion and the expressway be inaugurated immediately thereafter.

Supreme Court: Take action against officials responsible for illegal constructions

The Supreme Court today suggested that the Himachal Pradesh government should take action against those officials who were posted in Kasauli when illegal constructions came up there and sought their names and designations.

The apex court also asked the state what action it has taken against those officials who were responsible for the unauthorised constructions to come up in the Kasauli town.

“Unless you take action and remove four-five people from service, nothing will fall in line,” a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the advocate general of Himachal Pradesh.

On May 1, Assistant Town and Country Planner Shail Bala Sharma had gone to supervise the demolition of unauthorised construction at Kasauli’s Narayani Guest House where its owner Vijay Singh had allegedly shot at her.

Sharma had later succumbed to injuries, while another government official accompanying her had sustained serious injuries. The accused was later arrested.

During the hearing today, the advocate general placed a status report and said the demolition of unauthorsied constructions in several hotels at Kasauli was going on in full swing as per the apex court’s order and a committee of officers of the Public Works Department (PWD) has been formed to deal with difficulties that have cropped up during the demolition drive.

“You have said (in the report) that demolition work was under process. When will it be completed? We have said that the work be completed within 15 days,” the bench asked.

The counsel said that since the demolition was going on in portion of buildings having unauthorised constructions, it would take some time.

The bench also asked him whether the authorities were permitting tourists to stay in 11 other hotels and guest houses where demolition drive would go on later.

The advocate general, while contending that tourists were not allowed to stay in such hotels, said he would take further instruction on the issue.

The bench asked the state to apprise it about the steps it proposed to take to remove the debris of the demolished unauthorised structures in these hotels, saying these could create environmental hazards.

Senior advocate P S Patwalia, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said the Himachal Pradesh High Court was dealing with issue related to illegal constructions in places like Dharamshala, Mcleodganj and Kasol in the state.

The advocate general also referred to the amendement made in the Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning Rules which deals with issues of unauthorised constructions.

He said hotel owner Vijay Singh, who has already been arrrested on charges of killing the woman officer, had taken loans for construction of the guest house and further probe was going on.

The bench, while making it clear that it did not want wastage of money, asked the state to inform it about whether they have framed any guidelines so that unauthorised construction would not come up in future. It asked the state to file a status report on the questions raised by it and posted it for hearing in the first week of August.

The bench also made it clear that the high court would continue hearing the pending matter related to illegal constructions in several parts of the state.

The apex court had earlier termed as very unfortunate the killing of the woman officer and had said that the incident had happened due to the “non-implementation” of law.

It had on April 17 asked the state to demolish unauthorised structures in 13 hotels and guest houses in Kasauli and Dharampur areas of Solan.

NALSA to Supreme Court: 5-10 per cent sexual assault victims get compensation

In a “startling” revelation, the Supreme Court was today told that hardly 5-10 per cent sexual assault victims across the country were getting compensation under the relevant schemes in various states.

The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) told a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that as per the available data of Andhra Pradesh, out of 901 cases lodged last year, only one victim has received compensation.

“The data of state legal services authority of the states on utilisation of fund have been compiled. Hardly 5-10 per cent victims (of sexual assault) are able to get compensation. It is startling. In Andhra Pradesh, 901 cases were registered (in 2017), but only one victim got compensation. At the outer limit, maximum 10 per cent victims were getting compensation,” S S Rathi, Director of NALSA, told the bench.

As per the NALSA data, in 2016, 840 such cases were lodged in Andhra Pradesh but only eight victims got compensation. Out of 1,028 cases registered in 2017 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the state, only 11 victims got compensated.

Similarly in Rajasthan, 3,305 such FIRs were registered in 2017 and 140 victims had received compensation under these schemes, while in Bihar, 1,199 FIRs of sexual assaults were lodged in the 2017 but only 82 victims were compensated, the data showed.

The complete data would soon be filed in the supreme court, he said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Indira Jaising, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, referred to the victim compensation scheme proposed by the NALSA for the victims of sexual assaults and said they wanted to have two “vital additions” in the scheme, the funds for which was earlier shared with the Centre.

Jaising said the police must mandatorily inform the legal services authority of the state government about the lodging of FIRs in sexual assault cases so that the process of giving compensation to the victim can be expedited.

She said that suo motu (on its own) power should also be given to the legal services authority to grant compensation to the victims, as was already being done in Delhi.

The bench, on hearing the brief submissions, said it would pass directions on May 10 with regard to compensation scheme for victims and survivors of sexual assaults.

The apex court said it would consider in July the issues related to section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with disclosure of identity of victims of sexual offences and utilisation of Nirbhaya Fund by the states.

Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case in Delhi to support the initiatives on women’s safety across the country.

The top court had earlier observed that nothing would materialise if money from the Nirbhaya fund was not properly spent on women’s welfare. It had said there was no lack of funds under the scheme but the issue was of proper utilisation.

Earlier, the Centre had told the apex court that it was finding it difficult to get the cooperation of states on the issue relating to disbursal of compensation to the victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya scheme.

Several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court after the December 16, 2012 incident in Delhi raising concerns over safety and security of women. All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been issued from time to time in this regard.

Task force to examine safety of buildings, Centre tells Supreme Court: Sealing

The Centre today told the Supreme Court that the special task force (STF), which would be set up to oversee the enforcement of laws to deal with unauthorised constructions and encroachments in Delhi, would also look into the safety aspects of buildings which have been built legally.

The government told a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that the STF would examine the safety aspects, like fire fighting, in buildings like schools, hospitals, theatres and restaurants to see whether they complied with the norms.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni (ASG), appearing for the Centre, told the bench that they have added one representative from the office of Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor in the task force, which would be chaired by the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

“Even if there is a legal building, the task force will look into the safety aspects like fire and others,” he told the bench.

However, the apex court asked Nadkarni as to what has been done with regard to the issue of depletion of ground water in Delhi. The ASG told the bench they were taking steps in this regard.

The bench, while listing the matter for further hearing on April 24, asked the member secretary of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) to remain present before it on the next date to assist it.

The ASG told the bench that proper security arrangements would be put in place for the court-appointed monitoring committee so that they would carry out the sealing drive in Delhi as per the apex court’s mandate.

He said three senior officials of Delhi Police have been asked to coordinate with the committee and chalk out further modalities in this regard. He also handed over to the court a revised note regarding the ongoing sealing drive.

The bench said it would hear this issue on April 24.

The apex court had earlier taken umbrage to the lack of police protection to the monitoring committee for carrying out sealing drive and had termed it a “very serious thing”.

The issue had cropped up after the committee had raised the matter related to police protection when it was scheduled to visit Amar Colony in south Delhi for carrying out their work.

The Centre had last week apprised the court that it has proposed to set up a STF to oversee the enforcement and implementation of laws to deal with unauthorised construction and encroachment in Delhi after consulting all stakeholders.

The STF, to be chaired by the vice-chairman of DDA, would also comprise of commissioners of the three municipal corporation of Delhi (MCDs), chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the CEO of Delhi Jal Board (DJB).

The other members of STF would be commissioner or secretary of transport, secretary of urban development and secretary of revenue department of the Delhi government, special commissioner (law and order), special commissioner (traffic) of Delhi Police, chief fire officer of Delhi and commissioner (planning) of the DDA.

The ASG had said that STF would identify encroachments on government land, suggest the course of action to Centre with regard to unauthorised colonies in Delhi and oversee effective and proper enforcement of applicable laws by local bodies particularly about violation and unauthorised constructions.

The top court had earlier ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee to identify and seal such offending structures.

The monitoring committee, comprising K J Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner, Bhure Lal, chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, and Major General (Retd) Som Jhingan, was set up on March 24, 2006, by the court.

The top court is also hearing arguments on validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protect unauthorised construction from being sealed.

SC: Wife not a chattel, husband can’t force her to live with him

A wife is not a “chattel” or an “object” and she cannot be forced to reside with her husband even if the man desires to live with her, the Supreme Court has said.

The supreme court observed this while hearing a matter in which a woman, who lodged a criminal case against her husband alleging cruelty, said that she do not want to live with him while the man maintained that he wants to reside with her.

“She is not a chattel. You (man) cannot force her. She does not want to live with you. How can you say that you will live with her,” a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the man, who was present in the courtroom.

The bench asked the man to “re-consider” his decision and desire to reside with his wife in view of the categorical statement by the woman’s counsel that she does not want to live with him.

“You better re-consider it,” the bench told the man.

“How can he (man) be so unreasonable? He is treating her as a chattel. She is not an object,” the bench told the lawyer appearing for the man and posted the matter for hearing on August 8.

The man’s counsel told the court that he would try to persuade him in this regard.

Meanwhile, the lawyer representing the woman told the bench that she want to get divorce on the ground of cruelty.

“We are ready to withdraw the 498A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty) IPC case. We do not want any alimony also. She do not want to live with him,” her counsel said.

The court had earlier referred the matter for mediation observing that both of them were educated and they would be inclined to settle their matrimonial dispute rather than going for litigation which may prolong their agony.

It had told both the man and the woman to fully cooperate with the mediation proceedings keeping their interest in mind and the fact that it might not be advisable for them to litigate for an indefinite period.

However, the apex court was later told that the issue was not resolved in mediation.

DND flyway toll issue would be hear in July: SC

The Supreme Court today said it would hear in July the matter related to the Allahabad High Court ruling which stated that no toll should be collected from the commuters using the Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) flyway.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said that report filed in the matter by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) be kept in a sealed cover.

The supreme court had in November last year asked the CAG to assist in the matter and verify the company’s claim that the total cost of the project has not been recovered.

During the hearing today, the bench said that it would not rely on the CAG’s report as of now in the matter.

The Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd (NTBCL) told the court that the CAG was originally not made a party in the PIL which was filed before the high court.

The counsel appearing for the firm said that following the high court’s order, the company was not getting anything but its obligation to maintain the flyway stands.

On November 11, 2016, the apex court had said that the flyway would remain toll free for commuters, while disagreeing with the contention of NTBCL that its refusal to stay the high court verdict would cause irreparable loss to the firm.

The high court had on October 26, 2016, said no toll would be collected henceforth from those using the 9.2 km-long, eight-lane flyway.

The order was passed as the high court had allowed a PIL by the Federation of Noida Residents Welfare Association that had challenged the “levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee” by the NTBCL.

The firm has challenged the high court verdict in the top court, saying it did not take into account all aspects and factors such as interest on construction cost, depreciation and maintenance expenses, which come to around Rs 12.5 lakh per day, had not been duly considered.

SC protest: Complete breakdown of law and order in Delhi

There is a “complete breakdown” of law and order in Delhi, the Supreme Court said today, expressing anguish over the strikes and ‘dharnas’ against the ongoing sealing drive in the national capital.

The top court came down heavily on the Centre and other authorities for their “failure” to do their job, saying due to this, such a situation has arisen and termed it a “very serious issue” concerning governance.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked searching questions to the Centre over the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protects unauthorised construction from being sealed.

“You cannot go on destroying Delhi. There has to be some reason,” the bench told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkrani, appearing for the Centre.

“Tell us that there will be no ‘dharnas’ in Delhi. There is a complete breakdown of law and order in Delhi,” the bench said, while asking the Centre to justify its stand supporting the laws which protects unauthorised constructions.

Nadkarni said there were lakhs of immigrants in Delhi due to which there was a gap between demand and supply and there were around 1,400 unauthorised colonies, housing around six lakh families.

However, the top court took exception to the fact that no official data and figures were available on record regarding the number of such people residing in such colonies and unauthorised structures.

“Government and its bodies are not doing their jobs. This is an admission of failure by you that ‘I have failed to do my job, so please help us’,” the bench observed, adding, “this is a very serious issue. It is a matter of governance and people of Delhi are suffering because you are not doing your job”.

The court also raised the issue of “repeated temporary statutes” and asked whether it can be done like this. “Everytime you tell Parliament that extend it for one more year. Can you go on like this? Please look into this, otherwise you are befooling Parliament.”

The court also sought to know what action has been taken on unauthorised constructions which were not protected under the law.

“You can make a statement today that any unauthorised construction after January 1, 2006 will be sealed,” the bench said, adding hundreds of such colonies have come up after over the years.

“You do not implement your law and when we say do it, then there are strikes and all,” it said.

When the ASG said that strikes against the sealing drive were “wrong”, the bench said, “we do not know what is right or wrong, but this is happening”.

As the ASG referred to the Master Plan of Delhi-2021, the bench asked as to when these unauthorised colonies started to come up in Delhi.

When Nadkarni told the court that the process of data collection was going on, the bench shot back, “from 2006 to 2018, you are still under the process? You do not have any data? You had told the Parliament in 2006 that you will take some time to give data and 12-year after that, you are telling is that you do not have the data”.

The Centre, while saying that it would come up with the data, told the court that there was a phenomenal increase of population here and they have proposed amendment to the Master Plan of Delhi-2021.

The bench referred to the laws protecting unauthorised constructions here and asked the ASG if the orders passed by the top court in this matter have been “nullified”.

“No. Court orders cannot be nullified,” he said, adding, “the Supreme Court’s orders stand”.

He said that except for slums and JJ clusters, other encroachments on public lands have not been protected and anything illegal constructed after January 1, 2006 was also not protected under these laws. However, the bench said it was not concerned with the slums or JJ clusters.

“According to you, was there any unauthorised colony between March 31, 2002 to January 1, 2006? If yes, what action did you take to prevent coming up of these unauthorised colonies?,” the bench asked.

“Is this the way you are playing with the lives of the people of Delhi? People of Delhi are not relevant for you at all,” the bench observed.

When the ASG raised the issue of regularisation of unauthorised colonies, the bench said it would deal with colonies other than JJ clusters and slums.

During the hearing, the bench also sought to know whether there were facilities and infrastructures like sewage, drainage, parking, green areas, schools in unauthorised colonies here and whether the residents there were paying the taxes.

It asked the Centre to tell us what it proposes to do to deal with the issue and show the relevant documents and posted the matter for hearing tomorrow.

Earlier in the day, an advocate, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, urged the court to defer the hearing but the bench said it would examine the issue today and hear arguments on the validity of the laws protecting unauthorised constructions here.

The apex court had earlier ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee to identify and seal such offending structures.

The monitoring committee, comprising K J Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner, Bhure Lal, Chairman, EPCA and Major General (Retd) Som Jhingan, was set up in March 24, 2006, by the court.