The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the District Magistrate, Haridwar, and Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Roorkee in Uttarakhand for demolishing "unauthorised" buildings without giving notice to the encroachers despite apex court orders.
The top court gave a last opportunity to the two officials to explain as to why they demolished the buildings despite it asking them to first issue the eviction notice to the encroachers and hear their objections.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph asked the counsel appearing for the two officers why have they not complied with the orders.
"You demolished the building despite apex court's order. You told that the apex court orders were received later. Your assistant magistrate said he is 2015 batch IAS officer and could not understand the order. What is this. Should we initiate contempt action against both of you," the bench said.
The counsel appearing for both the officers said that they tender an unconditional apology but the orders were received after the demolition exercise was over.
At the time, when the counsel was arguing the case, the bench saw a person raising her hand from the visitors gallery.
"Who is she raising hand from the visitors gallery. Is she an IAS officer. We can issue suo motu contempt against her for not behaving properly in the court and disturbing the proceedings," the bench said.
The counsel again tendered an unconditional apology on behalf of the officer raising her hand.
"You are liable for contempt on the face of it," the bench said, adding that if the contempt notice was issued and even if their apology is accepted, it would still reflect in their service record.
"It will reflect in your service record for ever. Why do you want this. We are giving you one last opportunity to reply to the contempt petition against you," the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on December 10.
The bench also refused to hear the petitioner Noor Aslam, who has moved the court seeking contempt action against the officials for non-compliance of the court order.
"We will not hear you at this stage. You are encroacher", the bench said.
The apex court had on November 22, said: "We are inclined to take the view that before evicting any person the concerned authority is obliged to give a notice and hear the objections that may be raised."
The apex court had passed the order after some encroachers moved against the district administration's exercise to demolish 41 houses in Jaurasi village of Haridwar district.
The Uttarakhand High Court had on September 13, passed an order while disposing of a PIL directing the District Magistrate, Haridwar, to take necessary steps for removing the encroachment from the public road in accordance with law, within two months.
It had said that the encroachments have been made upon public land which has narrowed down the road.
"Roads are the lifeline of the country and due to exponential increase in vehicular traffic, need is being felt to widen the existing roads. In such view of the matter, no one can be permitted to raise structures temporary or permanent, by encroaching upon land earmarked for public roads," the high court had said.
(With inputs from agencies.)