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Delhi High Court gives nod: South MCD allowed to conduct survey of ‘squatters’ in Lajpat Nagar

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday permitted the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to conduct a survey of squatters in Lajpat Nagar’s Central Market, which is a no-vending zone. Directing completion of the survey within two weeks, the court directed the Delhi Police to provide all assistance to the two vending committees in the process and also prevent entry of new hawkers or vendors in the area till completion of the survey.

“The genesis of all these orders which are from the Hon’ble Supreme Court or our own coordinate bench is that bomb blast which happened at the market. You have to understand gravity. You have to see what was the fountainhead of all this … the fountainhead is the bomb blast which happened,” the division bench of Justices Vipin Sangh and Jasmeet Singh told the SDMC, while referring to the 1996 blast and a judgment declaring the area as a no-vending zone.

The court, however, also said that one cannot deny there are many squatters and it would not be easy to evict so many people from an open area. There are squatters despite the judgment, added the court.

It was hearing a petition by Federation of Lajpat Nagar Traders Association seeking an order to restrain the town vending committee from conducting the proposed survey in ward number 57-S. The traders argued that the area is a no squatting zone and has been held so by a division bench of the High Court in 2017. Alleging contempt of the judgment, the traders argued the existing squatters cannot be granted any form of recognition.

However, the authorities argued that the judgment passed in 2017 was only an interim measure and the survey is meant only to collect the data with regard to persons squatting in the area.

The division bench, while disposing of the traders’ plea, said that perusal of the 2017 judgment gives recognition to the fact that the area is a no-vending zone and holds that such status will continue until the Town Vending Committee comes into operation and decides whether the area is to be a vending zone or no-vending zone.

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