The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the CBI to probe how the famous 108-foot Hanuman statue and a private two-wheeler dealership encroached upon public land in the busy Karol Bagh area and the officials who allowed it to happen by 'abusing their position'.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed that the inquiry be held expeditiously and the officials of multiple agencies--DDA, North MCD, Land and Development Office, Public Works Department and Mandir Marg Police Station--should join the investigation and cooperate with the CBI.
It said that the trustees running the temple should not be permitted to enjoy the benefit of money derived from the public land and directed the UCO Bank branch at Model Basti area here to freeze the account of the trust and the fixed deposits. The court said the bank should only allow deposits and not withdrawals from the account.
An anguished bench observed that the authorities and their officials were required under the statute to protect the land and prevent such activities but it was a case of 'abuse of power' by them and it was 'completely reprehensible'.
"The fact that you (officials) have done nothing shows your culpability. It is high time that all public officers are held accountable," the bench said.
"You (DDA and North MCD) start doing your job. There is rampant trampling of city's rights," it said.
Observing that the authorities permitted the illegal constructions to come up for "obvious pecuniary advantages", the court directed the CBI to probe whether there was any "quid pro quo for permitting illegal construction" and its further development and asked the agency to file its status report on February 6.
The bench said as per the police, the monthly income of the temple from offerings is Rs four lakh but the actual figures may be more than what they were able to ascertain.
The court also asked the Delhi Police to handover to the CBI the details and documents of the inquiry conducted so far.
"Time has come to fix responsibility. Violating the Supreme Court's direction and statutory provisions cannot be countenanced. None of the authorities have taken a single step to protect the land or prevent encroachment. There is total non-compliance of statutory provisions by the authorities," it said.
The court had ordered a police probe after a committee appointed by it in May to look into illegal constructions all over Delhi had pointed to encroachments of up to 1,170 square yards on DDA land which forms part of the Southern Ridge.
It had also said that apart from the Hanuman statue, there was unauthorised construction of multiple small and big buildings of up to four floors including a residential complex there.
The bench had then directed the authorities to take action against the unauthorised construction on public land and ensure that all encroachments on the Southern Ridge are removed immediately and the Ridge is secured in terms of the orders of the Supreme Court.