Religious Structures and Graveyards will not be demolished in the removal of unauthorized encroachers from the Mehrauli Archaeological Park: Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court


Delhi High Court: In a case wherein a petition was filed against the removal of ‘unauthorized encroachers’ from the Mehrauli Archaeological Park area, a Single Judge Bench of Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, J. dismissed the petition as non-maintainable and held that ‘Religious Structures and Graveyards’ will not be demolished in the removal of ‘unauthorized encroachers’ from the Mehrauli Archaeological Park.


The petitioners resided in and earned their livelihood from the address ‘Khasra No. 216’ and were tenants of Respondent 3 (Delhi Waqf Board). The petitioners seeked quashing of the demolition order qua Khasra No. 216, wherein demolition was proposed to be carried out by Respondent 1 (Delhi Development Authority) for removing all unauthorized encroachers from the Government/Delhi Development Authority land.

Submissions on behalf of the Petitioner

It was submitted that the Delhi Development Authority did not possess any title or interest in Khasra No. 216 by virtue of provisions of the Waqf Act, 1995 and therefore, it could not carry out any demolition in the Khasra No. 216. It was stated that Khasra No. 216 was a Waqf property and thus was vested in Delhi Waqf Board. Further, it was submitted that land forming part of Khasra No. 216 consisted of graveyards, mosque, monuments, residence, and shops, etc., which fell under the purview of Delhi Waqf Board as the entire Khasra was a Waqf land.

It was also submitted that though the recorded owner of the land in Khasra No. 216 was the Government of India, as the land had fallen within the jurisdiction of the Custodian of Evacuee Property, but in view of the reports of the Survey Commissioner, the Delhi Development Authority could only be treated as the trustee of the said land, for and on behalf of Delhi Waqf Board. Therefore, the action proposed to be taken by Delhi Development Authority was without jurisdiction.

Submissions on behalf of the Respondent

Counsel for the respondent submitted that the land in Khasra No. 216 was owned by the Government of India and its control vested with Delhi Development Authority. Further, it was submitted that Khasra No. 216 formed part of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. It was also submitted that this Court in Indian National trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) v. DDA, W.P. (C) 4302 of 2015 and Managing Committee of Delhi Waqf Boards Masajids, Graveyards and Land/Properties at Ladha Sarai v. GNCTD, W.P. (C) 13905 of 2019, had directed the Delhi Development Authority and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to ensure that the entire area covered by the Mehrauli Archeological Park was secured and was freed from encroachments.

Analysis, Law, and Decision

The Court opined that in absence of any right, title or interest in Khasra No. 216, the petitioners had no locus to maintain in the present case.

The Court relied on the Order passed by the Division Bench of this Court in Delhi Waqf Board v. Delhi Development Authority, W.P. (C) 17591 of 2022 and held that religious structures and graveyards would not be demolished and further, that the demolition would be done only as per the demarcation report.

Thus, the Court held that the present petition was not maintainable and hence, was dismissed.

[Kanwar Bhan Hans v. Delhi Development Authority, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 4605, decided on 23-12-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Petitioner: Advocate Syed Hasan Isfahani;

Advocate Parvez Jai;

For the Respondent: Standing Counsel Shobhana Takiar;

ASC Mohd. Irsad;

Senior Advocate Sanjay Ghose;

Advocate Zeba Khair;

Advocate Nimita Kaul;

Advocate Nikita Jain;

Advocate Shaista Siddique;

Advocate Rakesh Kumar Sinha;

Advocate Divita Dutta ;

Advocate Kumud Ranjan Mishra.

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