Published on: December 04, 2023 at 12:31 IST
The Delhi High Court has affirmed that the declaration of rural areas as urban areas serves the paramount objective of the planned development of the national capital.
The division bench, led by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna, dismissed a public interest litigation challenging the constitutional validity of a notification issued on May 16, 2017, by the Delhi Government’s Department of Urban Development. This notification deemed certain villages, initially categorized as rural areas, as urban.
The plea, filed by the NGO Campaign for People Participation in Development Planning, contested the notification’s validity, arguing that the Lieutenant Governor did not have the authority to issue it.
The petitioner contended that, as per Section 507 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, this power rested with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
Dismissing the plea, the bench emphasized that the notification was legally published. It acknowledged the challenges posed by Delhi’s increasing population and limited land resources, stating that the inclusion of rural areas into urban zones was a strategic move to address housing needs and develop essential infrastructure in a planned manner.
The court clarified that the decision to urbanize the villages was made by the MCD, as demonstrated by documents and pleadings on record. The Lieutenant Governor’s approval, a procedural step, followed this decision, leading to the Gazette notification.
The bench stated, “Therefore, when undoubtedly the decision has been taken by the Corporation in exercise of its authority in terms of Section 507 of the DMC Act, 1957, the publication of the notification in the name of Lieutenant Governor does not make the notification bad in law, since the Lieutenant Governor is the Administrator of the MCD.”
Additionally, the court asserted that the publication under the Lieutenant Governor’s name did not diminish the authority of the MCD under Section 507 of the Act.
It emphasized that this section vests the power to declare rural areas as part of urban areas solely in the Municipal Corporation.
In concluding remarks, the bench held that interpreting the Corporation’s authority under Section 507 as a mere ministerial act of publication would be incorrect.