Supreme Court Says Master Plan for Delhi (MPD) 2041 Must Get Ready by April 30, 2023

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Observing that the notification of the Master Plan for Delhi (MPD) 2041 cannot remain in limbo, the Supreme Court has expressed hope that the final Master Plan would be published on or before April 30 next year.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka made the statement after Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati gave the cut-off dates for final approval and notification of the MPD-2041.

The ASG said the MPD-2041 will be placed before the Authority in the first week of December 2022, and any modifications in the document will be done by the last week of December 2022.

ASG Bhati further informed the apex court that a letter will be sent to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for final approval and notification of MPD-2041 by January 15, 2023.

"Even though the dates given are tentative, we expect these dates to be strictly adhered to as the matter cannot remain in limbo for ad infinitum period of time. We are sure that the final Master Plan would be published on or before April 30, 2023," the bench said in its recent order.

On the previous date of hearing on August 24, the Supreme Court had directed the counsel for the DDA and the ASG "to obtain necessary instructions from the Department concerned as within how much time the Master Plan will be notified".

"We are not willing to accept a simple statement that it is at an advanced stage. If the counsels by the next date are of the view that better assistance can only be given by the Secretary, Urban Development and the Vice Chairman, DDA, we may have the pleasure of their presence to assist us," the top court had warned.

Meanwhile, the top court also constituted a judicial committee of two retired High Court judges which would deal with the issues relating to sealing and de-sealing of properties, regularisation or levy of penalties or conversion charges, demolition of unauthorised construction, and removal of encroachment.

The apex court-appointed Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, retired Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and Justice GS Sistani, retired Judge of the Delhi High Court who would take a call on all these applications keeping the aforesaid conspectus in mind.

"... On the last date of hearing on August 24, 2022, this Court explored the aspect of setting up of an independent judicial body to look into the concerns of the applicants to be presided over by retired Judges. We have opined that once the Judicial Committee so appointed directs de-sealing or rejects the same, the application would lie to this Court and we would be adopting the SLP approach. This would facilitate a quick disposal of almost 150 applications pending which continue to rise and it is extremely essential that people who are compliant get the remedy at the earliest," said the bench while setting up of the committee.

"Such a Judicial Committee is necessary to be empowered to analyse all aspects of the matter, i.e., what is the nature of allotment, whether there is any change of the policy of that allotment, what according to the norms prevalent is permissible and what are the nature of the violation and in view thereof pass necessary orders. The power to direct compounding on payment of charges, if compliance is possible under existing norms, is also an aspect which must vest with the Committee," it added.

The top court said that in order to facilitate the disposal of applications pending before it, challenging the orders passed by the Monitoring Committee, shall stand referred to the judicial committee for consideration and passing orders.

We make it clear that insofar as the directions for de-sealing are concerned, the directions of the judicial committee shall be implemented forthwith even if there are reservations of the monitoring committee, said the bench.

"We hope this would simplify the process for consideration of the applications at an early date leaving only a narrow area of consideration by this Court. All necessary arrangements should be made to facilitate the commencement of the proceedings before the judicial committee within a period of two weeks from today," the apex court's September 13 order stated.

In its order, the bench said that the concerns in the present proceedings arise from rampant unauthorised and illegal use of residential areas for commercial and industrial purposes. The ground situation brought it to such an adverse level that the Supreme Court had little option but to step in directly into this area to ensure that the residential areas of Delhi city are not destroyed, it said, adding that it is towards this objective that a monitoring committee was appointed on May 7, 2004, to end the unauthorised and illegal industrial activity in residential and non-conforming areas.

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