No-squatting zone: HC permits SDMC to conduct survey of squatters in Lajpat Nagar Central Market

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Tuesday permitted the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to conduct survey in the Lajpat Nagar’s Central Market, which is a no squatting zone, to collect data of persons squatting in the area. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh made it clear that the authorities will remain duty bound to implement the 2017 judgement of this court by which it had asked the Delhi Police and the SDMC to remove all the squatters from the Lajpat Nagar’s Central Market and declare the area as a no-squatting zone.

To avoid the situation of influx of more squatters in the area, the bench directed the SDMC to ensure that the survey is completed within two weeks, failing which the Deputy Commissioner of Central Zone shall be held personally liable.

It directed the Delhi Police to provide assistance to the SDMC, which has been given the task to conduct the survey by Town Vending Committee (TVC), to ensure that the survey is concluded in two weeks and also to ensure that no new hawkers or vendors come in the area and start hawking in the area till the survey is completed.

With these directions, the court disposed of a petition by Federation of Lajpat Nagar Traders Association seeking to restrain the authorities from conducting the survey on ward no. 57-S.

The court noted that the directions in 2017 judgement gives recognition to the fact that the area is a no vending zone and this status will continue till the time the area is specifically not declared as a vending zone.

The association submitted that this ward under which Pushpa Market, Lajpat Nagar popularly known as Lajpat Nagar’s Central Market comes in, is a no-squatting zone and no vending zone.

Advocate Pranav Proothi, representing the traders association, said since this area is a no vending zone, the SDMC is in contempt as much as they are permitting illegal squatting and vending by squatters in the area for which the petitioner has also preferred a contempt petition. He said the vendors cannot be granted any form of recognition since it will tantamount to deliberate breach of the previous judgement of the high court.

Advocate Gaurang Kanth, representing the SDMC, said even though certain areas of Lajpat Nagar are maintained as no-squatting zone, there are encroachments by street vendors and the purpose of the survey is only to collect data of persons squatting in the area.

He said the survey would not be a reason to not comply with the high court’s previous judgement.

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