Refuting claims that the recent “demolitions” of some private properties in Kanpur and Prayagraj were without following the due process of law, the Uttar Pradesh government has told the Supreme Court that the actions were “carried out by the Kanpur Development Authority and Prayagraj Development Authority strictly in accordance with the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1972” and that they had nothing to do with the incidents of rioting.
Replying to a plea by Muslim outfit Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind against the demolitions, the UP government said “the petitioner has attempted to give a malafide colour to lawful action taken by the local development authorities as per procedure established by law by cherry-picking one-sided media reporting of a few incidents and extrapolating sleeping allegations from the same against the state”.
“The same, it is submitted, is completely false and misleading”, the reply said adding “the said demolitions…have been carried out by the Local Development Authorities, which are statutory autonomous bodies, independent of the state administration, as per law as part of their routine effort against unauthorised/illegal constructions, in accordance with” the 1972 Act.
The state said that in the case of the two demolitions in Kanpur, the builders themselves had “admitted” illegalities in the constructions in the application filed for compounding.
Jamiat had referred to some of the statements by state officials to buttress its charge that the demolition action was to target the riot accused. Countering this, the affidavit said the state “takes strong exception to the attempt by the petitioner to name the highest constitutional functionaries of the state and falsely colour and the local development authority’s lawful actions strictly complying with the…Act as “extra legal punitive measures” against accused persons targeting any particular religious community. All such allegations are absolutely false and are vehemently denied”.
The UP government urged the court to “hold the petitioner to terms for the said false allegations without basis…” and to dismiss the petition. It said that “in so far as taking action against the persons accused in rioting, the state government is taking stringent steps against them in accordance with completely different set of statutes namely” CRPC and IPC, UP Gangster and Anti Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, Prevention of Public Property Damages Act and Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2020.”
Explaining the action against one Ishtiaq Ahmed in Kanpur, it said, “There was commercial construction work being undertaken on the basement ground first second and third floor of the building in a residential area of about 130 square metres contrary to the plan that was sanctioned for the building on 6.7.2016”.
He was issued a show-cause notice on August 17, 2020, under the Act to stop the construction and appear for a personal hearing on August 28. But neither he nor his representative appeared for the hearing after which “several notices” duties as we sent and the property was sealed. But the seal was broken and an FIR was filed for this.
“The construction of basement, ground floor, first floor and second floor and third floor was made on the site in contravention of the approved double-storey residential building map by the builder. Commercial construction was also done against the approved residential map and the projections were made in the sidestreet be completely covering all the setbacks,” the affidavit pointed out adding, therefore, a demolition notice was passed on April 19, 2022, giving 15 days time to demolish the unauthorised construction himself.
But since he failed to comply, on June 11 certain portions of the construction covering the setbacks at the site were demolished, it said.
In an application filed by Ishtiaq Ahmed’s son Iftikar Ahmed on June 17, 2022, for compounding, he said that “the non-compoundable portion of the construction will be demolished by the dependent himself”. “Thus the offence of illegal construction has been admitted by the builder himself,” the reply affidavit added.
In action against one Riyaz Ahmed in Kanpur, the UP government said he was undertaking development work for establishing a petrol pump “without any sanction or approval from the Authority”.
A stop development notice was issued on February 18, 2022. As he failed to comply, he was issued a show-cause notice on February 23 fixing a personal hearing on March 8. However, neither he nor his representative appeared for a hearing the premises was ordered to be sealed and a demolition order was passed on April 20. Subsequently, a portion of the under-construction boundary wall at the disputed site was removed by the authority on June 11.
Thereafter, Riyaz Ahmed moved an application for compounding of the construction on June 17 along with an affidavit “wherein the illegality and irregularity in the building has been admitted by the owner”, said the state.
“Thus a perusal of the aforesaid facts reveal that two instances of removal of unauthorised illegal constructions in Kanpur by the Kanpur development Authority on June 11 were part of the ongoing demolition drive against encroachments and illegal constructions and had no relation to the riots as falsely alleged by the petitioner. The petitioner has deliberately obfuscated the true facts to paint a nefarious picture of alleged mala fides on the part of the Administration and that too without stating any facts on affidavit,” said the state.
In the case of the demolition of a house in Prayagraj where one Javed Mohammed was residing, it said the action “against the said person for illegal construction without any sanction at all” and “unauthorised use of residential land as an office had been initiated much prior to incidents of rioting”.
The premises were occupied by Javed Mohammed and “a name plate made of marble was installed on the boundary wall of the building on which “Javed M” was written and above the boundary, there was a signboard showing “Welfare Party of India“ on which the name of Mr Javed Mohammed, State General Secretary was written”.
The Prayagraj Development Authority received several complaints from the residents of the area “in respect of the unauthorised office use in a residential area as well as illegal constructions and encroachments qua the said property”, the reply affidavit said. The complaints spoke of the constant flow of visitors who used to park their vehicles on the road creating a constant problem in commuting, the state pointed out.
The show-cause notice was issued on May 10 granting a personal hearing on May 24. “The notice was attempted to be delivered in person at the premises; however, the server informed that though the family members were present at the site, they refused to take the notice” following which it was served by pasting on the wall of the building as per the Act.
Neither Javed Mohammed nor his representative Noor appeared for the show cause hearing and he was asked to demolish the unauthorised construction himself within 15 days, by June 9. “It was only after due service and providing adequate opportunity under …the Act that the illegal construction was demolished by the Prayagraj Development Authority on June 12 after following due process of law and the same had no relation to incident of writing,” it added.