(Hindustan Times/Times of India 13.5.2006)

"The court orders were based on certain laws that had been violated by people who carried out unauthorized constructions or set up shops in residential areas. Unless the government changed these very laws, the court orders for action against the violators could not be stalled. I have my doubts on the acceptability of the legislation in the higher courts."

P.P. Rao, Senior Advocate

The Bill is a " Political smokescreen" which would not stand scrutiny in higher courts. " If the courts are really mindful of their self-respect, it will not take them more than 30 seconds to say that this is nothing but nonsense."

P. N. Lekhi, Senior Advocate

Yet another eminent lawyer was of the view that the government could not "over-ride" the orders of the SC and High Court by getting an ordinary Bill like the one cleared in the Lok Sabha on Friday. For that, it needed to bring in a Constitution amendment Bill that would have to be passed by two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament.

Another prominent legal luminary, who did not want to be named, asserted that the Bill seeking to push through a year-long ban on demolition and sealing amounted to "over-riding" court orders and this was beyond the powers of Parliament.

"The Bill supercedes all instructions given to MCD earlier and it need not go to any court to seek clarification. Fresh illegal constructions after January 2006 are not to be allowed and those which were in existence before that are not to be touched."

A.S. Chandlok, Senior Advocate

"Confusion may prevail if building owners who faced action during the drive start rebuilding their properties. The status quo date mentioned in the Bill is January 1, 2006 and properties like MG-I and MG-II were in existence much before this date, thus, giving their owners the right to rebuild. It implies that whatever litigation is pending in the court will now end. So what's the point in having MCD or DDA courts?"

R. K. Saini, Advocate

"The Bill was not a final solution but just an interim arrangement and the government's actions in the next one year would be crucial for the city's development."

Ravinder Sethi, Senior Advocate

"You can amend the law to empower yourself but not pass a law to seek time from the court. The Bill might create confusion in cases where illegal constructions were put on hold following court orders. Now, owners of these properties might claim that since their properties were in existence before the cut-off date (Jan. 1, 2006), they might begin altering or adding portions as they stand exempted."

Pushkar Sood, Advocate

July-September 2006