Updated: July 29, 2021 7:28:31 am
Directing East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) to immediately release a vehicle seized by it for alleged illegal parking and carrying out of “commercial activity” in the public land, the Delhi High Court has said that the municipal body cannot demand Rs 12 lakhs from the vehicle owner as there was no justification in seizing the vehicle.
The vehicle of Rahul Kumar, a resident of Geeta Colony, was seized in February by EDMC and he approached the court seeking its release. The corporation, in response, told the court that action was taken after a complaint was received from various agencies regarding illegal parking and commercial activity of loading and unloading in the public land in front of Shamshan Ghat at Geeta Colony.
EDMC in a reply submitted before the court had said that Kumar was liable to pay a sum Rs 11,99,830 as a penalty for committing the violations. However, Kumar argued before the court that the vehicle was merely parked in a park near his house.
The court said that since there was no justification for seizing the vehicle, the EDMC cannot demand any amount towards removal or storage. “Clearly, the action of the respondent in seizing the vehicle of the petitioner and raising the demand of approximately Rs 12 lakhs on the petitioner for the release of his vehicle cannot be sustained,” it added.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva in the judgement of the case said that Sections 321 and 322 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act do not empower the commissioner to remove a vehicle from a public place unless such vehicle is “used for hawking or exposing for sale on any public streets or in other public place” in contravention of the Act.
“The alleged commercial activity of loading and unloading goods in a public place by no stretch of imagination can be covered under the expression “hawked or exposed for sale” as used in section 322 of the Act,” said the court.
The court said that it was not the case of EDMC that the vehicle in any manner was obstructing any free public passage or encroaching upon public land. “The reason given by the respondent for seizing the vehicle is that the vehicle of the petitioner was illegally parked in front of Shamshan Ghat at Geeta Colony and the activity of loading and unloading goods in public place was being carried out by the petitioner,” Justice Sachdeva said, adding that no material has been placed on record to substantiate the allegations.
The court further said that even loading and unloading of the goods would not satisfy the requirement of the expression “hawked or exposed for sale” as used in Section 322(b) of the MCD Act. It is not even the case of the respondent that the vehicle of the petitioner was parked illegally in any public street, the court added.
The court also said that the circular, under which the charges are sought to be recovered from the petitioner, deals with illegal encroachment by shopkeepers or hawkers who encroach upon public land as well as municipal land for hawking or exposing for sale. “The circular, as well as Sections 321 and 322 of the MCD Act, do not apply to the case of the petitioner whose case at best would fall in illegal parking upon municipal land,” it said further.
The bench also said that no showcause notice has been given to the petitioner requiring him to remove his vehicle from the said public land or directing him not to park his vehicle in the said land. “Petitioner has also not been informed of the consequences of the alleged illegal parking of the vehicle on the public land,” it said.
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