Embarrassment for Delhi municipal body as High Court says ‘we don’t trust you’

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“We don’t trust you,” Delhi High Court today told South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) while refusing to rely on its affidavit regarding unauthorised constructions in the posh Sainik Farms colony and directed it to give high resolution images of the area from 2007-2016.

The court also said the SDMC was “trying to cover up” and its report, submitted to it, was “an eyewash”.

Sainik Farms

“Give us the high resolution geo-spatial maps from 2007-2016 and we will carry out the comparison to see what changes have taken place there during this period,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar said and asked the corporation to file the images tomorrow.

The direction came after SDMC opposed the proposed CBI probe into unauthorised construction in Sainik Farms on the ground that it has taken action and wanted to place the correct picture before the court.

However, the bench

said after comparing the maps with Google images for the period, it would point out changes and unauthorised constructions and will give time to SDMC to “come clean” and warned that if no action is taken thereafter, “then we will order a CBI probe”.

The bench listed the matter for hearing on November 11.

During the hearing, the SDMC placed before the bench a report and pictures received from Geo Spatial Delhi Ltd (GSDL) regarding 167 properties in Sainik Farms and after perusing the same, the bench commented “You are trying to pull wool over our eyes”.

It expressed displeasure over the contentions in the affidavit and the “disclaimer” given by GSDL that its study does not claim that buildings constructed in the area between 2011 to 2015 are “illegal or unauthorised”.

“The disclaimer is unbelievable. Everybody is trying to hide something. We don’t want your report. Give us images,” the court said.

Dismissing the SDMC’s claim that it has achieved results by taking action against unauthorised construction in the area and there have been no illegal construction there after 2014, the bench said, “You have achieved nothing. This is all eyewash. You are trying to cover up”.

Meanwhile, while Delhi government supported the proposed CBI probe, saying SDMC officials should participate in it and “not hide behind papers”, Delhi Police claimed that since 2008, there were over 800 violations despite court’s order halting construction in the area.

The bench said it favoured CBI probe as it was more concerned with “who are the officials who allowed the illegal constructions to happen, the builders who built it and the occupants of such buildings who live there despite knowing the truth”.

The corporation opposed the proposed CBI probe and said it has taken action against some officials, 13 of whom have been “dismissed”.

Delhi Police told the bench details of the violations were communicated to the corporation each year since 2008.

Delhi government senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra alleged that “majority of these officials are corrupt” and a CBI probe would be a “litmus test” for them.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO alleging illegal construction in Sainik Farms.

On the last date, the bench had asked SDMC why CBI should not probe the municipal staff or police officials who allowed “rampant” unauthorised constructions in the Sainik Farms area by taking “huge bribes”.

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