Delhi High Court Expresses Concern Over Unchecked Unauthorised Construction Near Protected Monuments

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Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Jamia Arabia Nizamia Welfare Education Society, highlighting the issue of illegal construction in Delhi's Nizamuddin area

The Delhi High Court expressed grave concern on Thursday over the failure of multiple authorities to curb unauthorised construction, warning that such negligence could lead to "complete lawlessness" in the city with far-reaching consequences for society.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora expressed dismay at the inability of authorities to prevent unauthorised construction near centrally protected monuments such as Nizamuddin ki Baoli and Barakhamba Tomb, describing the situation as "shocking."

The court hinted at the possibility of ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter, emphasizing that no institution or authority should be allowed to perpetuate illegality.

"The failure of multiple agencies on the ground level is shocking. If unchecked, this will lead to complete lawlessness in the city, which is detrimental to society," remarked the bench.

The court's observations came during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Jamia Arabia Nizamia Welfare Education Society. The PIL alleged "illegal and unauthorised construction" near Baoli Gate, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, and other heritage sites.

The bench noted the lack of action from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) against the unauthorised construction. Despite previous directives and the sealing of the property, construction activities allegedly persisted on the upper floors of the guesthouse.

The court expressed its intent to involve the CBI to investigate the matter thoroughly, emphasizing the need for accountability among the concerned authorities.

The case has been listed for further hearing on February 13, with the court emphasizing the urgency of addressing the issue of unauthorised construction, which poses threats to the environment, heritage, and cultural significance of the area.

On the last hearing, the court strongly criticized Delhi Police and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) officials for their failure to curb illegal constructions near the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah.

The petitioner has urged the authorities to fulfill their constitutional obligations and duties to halt the alleged illegal and unauthorised construction at the guesthouse, emphasizing the need for concerted efforts to preserve the city's heritage and prevent further encroachment on public land.

The organization claimed that illegal guest houses had been erected within 100 meters of the protected monuments of Nizamuddin ki Baoli and Barakhamba Tomb, both in proximity to the Nizamuddin Dargah. The petitioner's contention is that despite previous sealing of guest houses in the area, there was a recent surge in illegal construction, and authorities were not taking adequate action.

Case Title: Jamia Arabia Nizamia Welfare Education Society v. Delhi Development Authority through its Vice Chairman and Ors.