Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: In a writ filed by the petitioner seeking relief against the disturbance caused by the cafe’s loud music and its encroachment on public land, Rajnish Bhatnagar, J., while disposing the writ directed the Delhi Development Authority (‘DDA’) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (‘MCD’), the respondents herein, to formulate a mechanism or frame rules to levy charges on encroacher for illegal encroachment on public land.


The petitioner filed the writ petition alleging that “Books and Beans,” an eatery, was playing loud music from morning till midnight, causing significant disturbance. Additionally, the cafe was utilizing a vacant public space as an extended seating area without proper authorization, thereby encroaching on public land. The cafe was situated in a market area and had been placing tables and chairs outside its rented premises.

The patrolling staff observed the unauthorized placement of tables and chairs and subsequently registered a FIR under Section 283 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). Following this, a joint operation by the MCD led to the seizure of twenty chairs and seven tables placed in the open area by the cafe. Despite these actions, further inspections revealed that the cafe continued to use an area beyond its rented premises by laying a green grass carpet and placing additional tables and chairs.

The Court summoned a status report from the Station House Officer (‘SHO’) which confirmed ongoing patrolling to ensure compliance with noise regulations and prevent further encroachment. The SHO, provided an undertaking to the Court, affirming that no loud music was being played after 10 P.M., in adherence to Supreme Court directives, and committing to prevent any future violations.

The DDA and MCD contended that the land in question was public property under the jurisdiction of the DDA and had been encroached upon by respondent 3. They argued that the cafe had no right to use this land without authorization and emphasized that the encroachment was illegal. It was further stated that by encroaching upon the government land, owner of the cafe has illegally enriched himself, therefore should be made liable to pay user charges at the prevailing market rate, for the period the said land was in his possession.

Decision and Analysis

On the matter of noise pollution, the Court took note of the SHO’s statement confirming compliance with noise regulations. The Court mandated the SHO to ensure that no loud music is played in the area beyond the permissible hours, and cafe shall not encroach upon public land and in case it does, then DDA should take immediate action.

Regarding the encroachment issue, the Court critically examined the cafe’s unauthorized use of public land. The Court highlighted the severity of such encroachments, equating them to civil wrongs that deprive the public and the state of valuable assets. Citing the case of Jamia Arabia Nizamia Welfare Education Society v. DDA, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1138 the Court reiterated that encroachment on public spaces poses significant dangers to public safety by forcing pedestrians onto the roads.

Despite recognizing the gravity of the encroachment, the Court showed leniency towards the young cafe owner, refraining from imposing a financial penalty. Instead, the Court issued a stern warning to the respondent, emphasizing the illegality of his actions and the necessity of compliance with public land regulations.

The Court directed the DDA and MCD to devise mechanisms for imposing charges on encroachers for illegal use of public land and that these charges should reflect the market value of the encroached area and take into account factors such as the duration and extent of the encroachment.

The Court, therefore, disposed of the petition, ordering that the SHO remain vigilant in enforcing noise regulations and preventing any future encroachments by the cafe. The Court also mandated that copies of the order be sent to the Chairman of the DDA and the Commissioner of the MCD for compliance and implementation of the Court’s directives regarding encroachment penalties.

[Kamlesh Jain v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2024 SCC OnLine Del 4182, Decided on 27-05-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Petitioner in person.

Advocates for the Respondents: Amol Sinha, ASC, Kshitiz Garg, Ashvini Kumar, Chavi Lazarus, Pawan Reley, Akshay Lodhi, Gaurav Kumar, Simran Singh, Sanjeev Sabharwal, Standing Counsel for MCD, Shweta Singh, Manika Tripathy, Standing Counsel for DDA, Uday Singh.

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