Land reclaimed after mosque demolition, DDA tells court

Friday, January 14, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) Friday told the Delhi High Court that it had complied with its orders for demolishing a mosque built illegally on public land in Jangpura in south Delhi and had reclaimed 350 sq metres of its land.

The DDA also pleaded with the court to drop its contempt proceedings against it for the delay in carrying out its orders.

“In compliance with the directions of this court, a demolition programme was fixed on Jan 12 in consultation with police department and illegal/unauthorised structure that is a mosque called ‘Noor Masjid’, its boundary wall and a newly constructed tin shed were removed and about 350 square metres DDA land has been reclaimed,” the DDA told a bench headed by Justice G.S. Sistani.

Facing a contempt threat from the high court, the DDA, after several failed attempts, succeeded in demolishing the mosque built 35 years ago. The DDA also told the court that it had begun fencing the land and constructing a boundary wall and had put up a sign board saying that the land belongs to it.

Seeking dropping of the contempt proceedings, which were initiated by the High Court for non-compliance of its earlier order, the agency also tendered “an unqualified apology” for its failure to reclaim the land earlier.

“It has the greatest respect for the court …the respondent (DDA) submits that its has not violated the judgement/order of this court,” the DDA said in its affidavit.

It also submitted its compliance report to the high court’s order for reclaiming encroached public land, annexing it with photographs taken after the demolition of the mosque at Jangpura .

The court had in 2006 issued contempt notice to the DDA on a petition of Jangpura Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA), represented by advocate R.K. Saini, alleging that its direction to demolish the illegal structure had not been complied with.

Meanwhile, the court, on an assurance by the authorities, disposed of the petition of RWA in 2008. “The matter was then referred to Delhi government’s religious committee which gave its approval for demolishing the structure in Oct 2009, and the case was then forwarded to Delhi Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna, who gave his nod soon after,” said Saini, the lawyer for the RWA.

In 2010, DDA tried demolishing the mosque six times, but was unable to do so due to lack of adequate police protection.

Frustrated with the lack of action, the RWA again moved the court in October 2010. The high court then issued a contempt notice against Khanna, DDA vice-chairman and the commissioner (Land and Management) and asked them to submit a compliance report within four weeks.

Taking the DDA’s affidavit against the contempt petition on record, Justice Sistani fixed the matter for further hearing on March 1, 2011.

Meanwhile, during the day, Delhi Wakf Board (DWB) approached a larger bench of the Delhi High court seeking modification of its earlier order to the DDA to demolish the mosque allegedly built on encroached land.

“How can we set aside the order by entertaining your writ petition. If we allow you (DWB) to argue and something else is found then we will impose a heavy cost of lakh on you because you are a statutory body,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Sanjiv Khanna said.

Taking serious note of the petition, the bench said that the right forum was the Wakf Tribunal and not the court.

“How can the order of a division bench be set aside by another and moreover, the writ petition was not filed under the Constitution of India,” the court remarked, while allowing the petitioner to withdraw the plea.

“The petition is permitted to be withdrawn,” it said.

A DWB official told IANS that the board will file a fresh petition before the court again next week.

Filed under: Religion

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