Decided on October 12,2007



- (1.) PRAYER made in this petition is to de-seal the shops belonging to different petitioners in this petition, which are situate at Ashram Chowk, near Jairam Ashram. The outcry of the petitioners is that such a sealing action is taken by the Delhi Development Authority (for short, 'dda')notwithstanding the order of status quo dated 14. 11. 2006 passed by a learned single Judge of this Court in WP (C) Nos. 16852-861/2006 and confirmed vide orders dated 6. 2,2007 while disposing of the said writ petition.
(2.) APPREHENDING threatened action in this behalf, those shopkeepers, who are the petitioners herein, approached this Court, well in time, and before such an action could be taken. They filed WP (C) Nos. 16852-61/2006. Their plea was that there was threat of demolition of their properties/shops and the DDA was contemplating to take such action without issuing any show-cause notices to the petitioners and in complete violation of the principles of natural justice. They also submitted that no fresh construction or unauthorised construction had been raised by them and most of the properties are in existence since 1950-60. The matter was listed before the learned single Judge on 14. 11. 2006, which was the first date. After hearing the petitioners as well as counsel for the DDA, who appeared on advance notice of the petition, the Court issued notice and passed the order to the effect that "in the meanwhile, no action shall be taken without authority of law. " On the next date, i. e. 1. 12. 2006, a more specific protective order was passed directing that status quo shall be maintained. After the DDA filed its reply, the matter was argued at length on 6. 2. 2007. The DDA had also produced the original file of the Estate Officer of the DDA, which was perused by the Court. The learned single Judge found that for evicting the petitioners the DDA had taken action under the provisions of Public premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the 'pp Act' ). Notices were issued to the petitioners under section 4 of the PP Act and, thereafter, the Estate Officer heard the parties and had passed orders dated 20. 12. 2006 and 29. 12. 2006 for the eviction of the petitioners. The learned single Judge also took note of the fact that the petitioner had assailed those orders by filing appeals, inter alia, contending that adequate time was not given to them for filing replies and they were not given opportunity to lead evidence or cross-examine the officers of the dda who had been examined behind their back. In respect of one petitioner, it was contended that no notice under Section 4 of the PP Act was even served upon him nor any consequential order under Section 5 of the said Act was passed. Since statutory appeals filed under Section 9 of the PP Act were pending before the learned Addl. District Judge, after taking note of the aforesaid background facts, the learned single Judge, on 6. 2. 2007, disposed of the writ petition by passing the following order:- "be that as it may, since the Petitioners other than the Petitioner No. 6, who have been served with the orders passed by the Estate Officer under Section 5 (1) of the Act, have preferred appeals before the ADJ (Appellate Authority) under Section 9 of the Act, the legality or otherwise of the said orders will be determined in those proceedings in accordance with law. The petitioners can urge the very grounds set out in their rejoinder in those proceedings. In the circumstances, this Court is of the view that the said appeals should be disposed of in a time bound manner and that during the'pendency of the appeal, the status quo as to the petitioners' possession be maintained. Accordingly, the learned ADJ before whom the appeals are stated to be pending is requested to dispose of the appeals filed under Section 9 of the Act against the orders dated 20. 12. 2006/29. 12. 2006 passed by the estate Officer within a period of six months from today and in any event not later than 7. 8. 2007. Till the disposal of the said appeals, the status quo as to the Petitioners' Possession shall be maintained. With these directions, the writ petitions are disposed of with no orders as to costs. Pending applications stand disposed of accordingly. Dasti to the parties. "
(3.) AT this stage it would be necessary to fathom into the genesis of initiating action against the petitioners under the provisions of PP Act. This inquiry is necessary to find out the status of the petitioners, namely, in what capacity they are occupying the premises/shops at the aforesaid place. This has become necessary for the reason that, as would be mentioned in detail hereafter, the Monitoring Committee appointed by the Supreme Court gave directions to the DDA to seal the shops of the petitioners on the premise that they are encroachers upon the DDA land and, therefore, such encroachments are to be cleared by removing them.;

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