SC lifts penalty on desealing premises

NEW DELHI: In a major reprieve to the trading community, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered that the residential premises, which were sealed earlier for carrying out commercial activity, should be de-sealed without the violator paying penalty for misuse. The apex court-appointed monitoring committee, mandated to supervise the sealing drive against illegal structures and illegal use of residential premises, was insisting on payment of hefty misuser charges on the ground that these offenders had not voluntarily stopped illegally carried out commercial activity. Appearing for Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), counsel Sanjiv Sen termed the demand of misuser charges as “unconstitutional” and “excessive” and sought the court’s permission to go ahead with the desealing exercise without insisting on payment of misuser charges. A Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker and L S Panta, after hearing amicus curiae Ranjit Kumar briefly, said for de-sealing purposes, the MCD need not collect the misuser charges. “We will decide whether or not misuser charges were to be collected at all when we finally decide the petitions challenging the validity of MPD-2021,” it said. However, the Bench again asked the owners of the premises, up for desealing, to give the usual undertaking that their premises would be re-sealed if the court found that MPD was an invalid document. When petitioners for the owners of premises awaiting de-sealing sought the copy of the order for early action on the part of the civic bodies, the Bench sarcastically commented: “Do not worry. The civic authorities are anxious to do the de-sealing. They would not require the order and would swing into action.” The amicus curiae also pointed out a reservation expressed by the monitoring committee about the MCD advertisement allowing 45 days to the misusers in areas, which had not been declared commercial under MPD-2021, to voluntarily stop the illegal activity lest sealing take place. Kumar said the committee felt that if 45 days were given to the misuser for voluntary closure of the illegal activity, then it would leave MCD with only 45 days to complete the sealing drive to meet the June 30 deadline of the Apex court. The Bench again refused to pass any order on this aspect of the problem highlighted by the amicus curiae and said it would go into the issue when it comes up for hearing in July. The court had recently given three months time to MCD to complete the sealing drive against illegal structures and residential premises used as commercial set-ups in all areas that had not been regularised or declared commercial under MPD-2021.
The Times of India; 15 Mar 2008, 0207 hrs IST , TNN


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