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Batla House Dhobighat Demolition: HC Gives Petitioner 3 Weeks to Move Appropriate Forum

File photo of Delhi High Court

File photo of Delhi High Court

Granting the threeweek period to Muslim Kassar Vikas Sangathan, the high court said the Delhi Development Authority will not take any precipitate measure in the meanwhile.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has granted three weeks to an organisation to approach an appropriate forum for relief against demolition of the Batla House dhobighat, which is used by washermen here to earn a living. Granting the three-week period to Muslim Kassar Vikas Sangathan, the high court said the Delhi Development Authority will not take any precipitate measure in the meanwhile. The high court was hearing a petition by the organisation seeking direction to the DDA not to demolish the Batla House dhobighat at Okhla here.

The plea also sought to restrain the DDA from demolishing the existing dhobighat till land is allotted for a new one in the vicinity and it is constructed. In the circumstances, the DDA will not take any precipitate measures for 3 weeks, to facilitate the petitioner (organisation) to approach the appropriate forum for redressal and/or, if aggrieved by any orders subsequent orders, to pursue such remedies as may be available in law, Justice Najmi Waziri said disposing of the petition.

Senior advocate Rajiv Bansal and lawyer Prabhsahay Kaur, representing the DDA, informed the court that demolition work has already been carried at the dhobighat on December 24 last year. They said the civic body took the action in pursuance to a National Green Tribunal (NGT) judgement which ordered that encroachments at Yamuna banks are removed.

The petitioner's counsel, however, submitted that the NGT's order in the Manoj Misra case deals with restoration of the River Yamuna and the floodplains, whereas the existing dhobighat is located 2.5 kilometres from the waters of the river. The DDA disputed this claim. It prompted the high court to say that whether the present case is related to the Manoj Misra case is an issue for the petitioner to seek clarification during appropriate proceedings.

Meanwhile, the petitioner's counsel urged the status quo be maintained as the site is still being used by washermen to earn a living, who otherwise face economic difficulties on account of the prolonged coronavirus pandemic.

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