The Delhi High Court on Thursday came down heavily on officials and the standing counsel of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) for allowing the multi-level parking lot at the Old Delhi parade ground to be blocked for Ramlila functions, against the orders of the court.
The court, in a 2013 order, had directed that before permission is granted for Ramlila celebrations, authorities should ensure that the parking area is not affected, since it leads to huge traffic snarls and congestion in Chandni Chowk. Despite the orders, the court observed that the NDMC had granted permission to hold the Ramlila celebrations without taking any steps to ensure access to the underground parking lot.
“Neither of the two wings of the North DMC seem to have had any problem with the parking facility being used for the Ramlila celebrations, even for a whole month. No thought was given to the fact that the parking facility was meant for the public and allotting it for any other purpose would entail inconvenience and loss of revenue,” noted the bench.
“It should not require a court to remind the administrators what their priorities should be,” the bench said, noting that the “basic thought process” had “eluded the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and its Commissioner, who never paused to consider the impact of the permission given.”
The NDMC commissioner tendered an unconditional apology to the court for violating its orders, which was accepted by the bench.
The bench also pulled up the corporation authorities for “unacceptable routineness with which the applications for permission to use the parking facility for other purposes have been processed.”
“It was evident from the experience during the Dussehra festival in 2013 that giving of the surface level parking space for holding the Ramlila celebration would block access to the basement levels. It required the court’s intervention in 2013 to ensure unhindered access to the basement level parking. It is inexcusable that despite this, the North DMC did not take corrective action for 2014,” observed the court of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice S Muralidhar.
Last year, the bench had issued a contempt notice to the NDMC commissioner after it recieved complaints that the Ramlila organisers had been allowed to block the access to the multi-level parking lot.