The Delhi High Court on Friday showed its displeasure to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) over its failure to take possession of a park near Jama Masjid, which is alleged to be in “illegal possession” of encroachers, and directed the civic authorities to take steps to remove illegal encroachers as per law.
The bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna on Friday (November 17) directed MCD to file a status report in this regard and noted that North & South Park adverting the Jama Masjid, despite being public parks, are not in their possession.
“This court directs MCD to take action according to the law. In case after all, a statutory authority cannot lose possession of public parks. Let the status report be filed within weeks. Have it after 5 weeks. December 21 is the next date of hearing”, said the bench.
During the hearing, the court also expressed shock over the statement of MCD stating that Shaheen Gate at the Jama Masjid, North Park–we aren’t even allowed entry there.
MCD further told the court that we didn’t have entry to the parks near Wazu Khana. As far as South Park is concerned, we demolished certain unauthorised construction. The rest of the parks- we’ve been maintaining.
Noting the submissions, the Court asked, “How have you lost possession of the parks & how can you maintain it? How can MCD lose control over its parks? Public parks can’t be taken over in the 21st century. We will direct the police to take over the park.”
“We are asking for the protection of the environment every day. We can’t breathe, and you are losing possession of the parks? Either this is your park owned by you- you must have possession of the same. You can’t lose possession of it. Please write to the SHO. Public park possession can’t be lost, said the Bench
Court observations came while hearing a Public Internet Litigation (PIL) seeking direction to the Government of NCT Delhi and Municipal Corporation to remove all illegal and unauthorised encroachment from the public parks, including Urdu Park situated around Meena Bazar Market, Jama Masjid, Delhi, and also from other parks situated around the Jama Masjid.
The petitioner, a local resident, through Advocates Mohammad Ali and Mutiur Rehman, also sought direction to remove all shelter homes (“Rain Basera”) built by DUSIB from the public parks, including Urdu Park situated around Meena Bazar Market, Jama Masjid, Delhi.
The plea alleged that a few people, with the help of the civic body, are illegally operating parking and e-rickshaw charging facilities in the public parks situated around the Jama Masjid.
The residents of the area have no other green places or parks for walking, jogging, or any other recreational activities. The children residing in this area are forced to be locked inside their homes as there are no playgrounds around this area, the plea stated.
The plea submitted that the Old Delhi area, i.e. Chawri Bazar, Choori Walan, Matia Mahal, Jama Masjid, etc., is a thickly populated area, and there are no public parks in the area to access use except these public parks.
“Residents of these areas are deprived of their Fundamental Rights to enjoy a clean and healthy environment. The present problem requires an urgent solution and the public at large should not suffer because of some action or inaction of government entities. The local ward authorities department has shown no zeal or interest to solve this problem and the civic body is not bothered to ensure a clean & healthy environment especially in Old Delhi,” the plea added.