‘Bulldozer’ not above the law: HC seeks explanation from Haryana government on Nuh and Gurugram demolition drive post violence

“The law and order problem is being used as a ruse to bring down buildings without following the procedure established by law,” the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bench said in the Order.

ON Monday, a division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu cognisance of the demolition drive going on in district Nuh and Gurugram in the aftermath of communal violence that started in the state on July 31.

The Bench comprising Justices G.S. Sandhawalia and Harpreet Kaun Jeewan observed that the Constitution of India protects the citizens of this country and no demolitions could be carried out without following the procedure prescribed by law.

The Bench directed the Haryana government to furnish an affidavit on the number of buildings that had been demolished in the last two weeks, both in Nuh and Gurugram, and whether any notice was issued before the demolitions.

It also directed the state government to stop the demolitions if the procedure prescribed by law was not being followed.

The Bench noted that the demolition of buildings was being carried out without any demolition Orders and notices.

“The law and order problem is being used as a ruse to bring down buildings without following the procedure established by law,” the Bench said in the Order.

The Bench also highlighted that it needed to ascertain whether buildings belonging to a particular community were being brought down under the guise of a law and order problem and an exercise of ethnic cleansing was being conducted by the State.

The Bench cited news reports carried by the Times of India and The Indian Express to take suo motu cognisance.

In the opinion of the Bench, some media reports were trying to show that demolitions were being carried out in Nuh and Gurugram on account of the fact that the individuals involved in the anti-social activities had made illegal constructions.

But the two news items quoted by the court show that the commercial and residential buildings, including a restaurant, next to a hospital, which have been in existence for a long time, were being brought down by bulldozers.

“The news item also says that the Home Minister himself has said that bulldozers are part of illaj (treatment) since the government is probing communal violence. The said news items are appended alongwith the file for ready reference. Lord Acton has stated ‘power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’,” the high court observed.

As per reports in the Indian Express, on July 31, communal violence erupted in Nuh, and spread to the adjacent Gurugram. As many as six people, including two home guards, were killed and scores were injured and displaced due to the violence.

The Indian Express also reported that days after violence in the Nuh district, authorities had bulldozed more than 250 shanties allegedly encroaching upon government land in Tauru town. As per reports, authorities had also razed a three-storey hotel as part of the demolition drive.

Click here to read the order.

The Leaflet