KHAN MARKET VIOLATIONS Supreme Court says authorities are playing with lives of citizens after being told that directions to act against shopkeepers were delayed owing to ’technical reasons’
NEWDELHI:Judicial orders meant to impact the rich are not implemented, while those related to the poor are immediately carried out, the Supreme Court remarked on Wednesday, after it was told that directions to act against shopkeepers in Khan Market was delayed due to “technical reasons”.
“Where court orders relate to poor people, it is given effect to. When it comes to where rich people visit, it is not acted upon,” a bench of justices MB Lokur, Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta told additional solicitor general AS Nadkarni.
Nadkarni, on behalf of the special task force (STF), said the panel was awaiting guidelines on fire safety from the Union urban ministry.
The bench was hearing a case related to unauthorised construction and misuse of properties in Delhi. Constituted by the Centre, the STF is led by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) vice-chairperson and comprises heads of all civic agencies in Delhi as members.
The task force has the mandate to carry out directions to retrieve government land from encroachers and to also remove unauthorised extensions of shops.
Nadkarni’s statement came after the bench specifically asked about action taken against unauthorised extensions in Khan Market and also against restaurants operating without a fire safety clearance. Justice Deepak Gupta said: “What are you doing? Do you want a repeat of Kamla Mills fire of Mumbai here? It is very clear that a (restaurant with) seating capacity of over 50 needs a fire licence. When you go to these places (in Khan Market), you can make out that on one floor they have a seating capacity of 40 and on the other, another 40. There is a clear violation of law.”
On December 29 last year, a massive fire had swept through two rooftop pubs — Mojos Bistro and 1Above — in Kamala Mills compound in central Mumbai, killing 14 persons.
Justice Lokur added: “The law is different for the poor and the rich.” Nadkarni denied that saying law was equal for all. But Justice Lokur replied : “Then it is interpreted and implemented differently for the rich.”
Nadkarni clarified that action was contemplated in Khan Market but failed to elaborate on this. “You are playing with the lives of citizens. God forbids something happens there, what you will do?” Justice Gupta said. The counsel assured the bench that the STF will look into the deviations.