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Pope Benedict XVI on Monday announced that he would resign on 28th February. The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals this morning, thus becoming the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years.


In a statement, the pope said in order to govern “...both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.


“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter.”


The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.


According to media reports, the Pope’s leadership of 1.2 billion Catholics has been beset by a child sexual abuse crisis that tarnished the church, one address in which he upset Muslims and a scandal over the leaking of his private papers by his personal butler.


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RTI Judgement Series: Citizen files 65 appeals for illegal construction in Delhi’s Shahadara area

Allowing 65 appeals, the CIC expressed distress over the fact that organized illegal constructions are being undertaken in the capital, apparently with the collusion of MCD and perhaps other official bodies. This is the 38th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Central Information Commission (CIC), while admitting that it does not have the power to enforce the rule of law, said it hopes that all arms of governance would take actions to ensure that illegal activities (constructions) are brought to a stop immediately. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, said citizens have to come forward to enforce the sovereignty and the rule of law as official agencies have no interest in upholding the rule of law.


Allowing 65 appeals filed by the applicant, the CIC in its order issued on 30 September 2009, said,“...hopes that the commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) would take cognizance of this and demonstrate that MCD does mean to uphold the rule of law rather than collaborate with criminals.”


Delhi resident Rajender Gupta sought information from Superintending Engineer (SE), MCD about approval for building plans on 65 sites in Shahadara, South Zone. He had also sought information on whether any complaints had been received about the ongoing construction at the sites identified by him, and whether any action had been proposed or was being undertaken. He had sought information with respect to the following sites which fall within the jurisdiction of the SE I, Shahdara South Zone:


1.       17/90 Geeta Colony, Delhi

2.       A-64, Radheshyam Park Ext., Delhi

3.       X-3741, Gali no. 7, Shanti Mohalla, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

4.       12/128 Geeta Colony, Delhi

5.       13/397 Near Shastri Park, Geeta Colony, Delhi

6.       13/133 Geeta Colony, Delhi

7.       7/47 Geeta Colony, Delhi

8.       12 Radheshyam Park, Delhi

9.       35 Radheshyam Park, Delhi

10.     X-306 Chand Mohalla, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

11.     Opposite X-923, New Chand Mohalla, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

12.     Opposite X/3469, Gali no. 12, New Jain Market, Shanti Mohalla, Delhi

13.     X-4028, Shanti Mohalla, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

14.     62 Radhe Puri Ext.-2 Main Road, Delhi

15.     639 (Opposite 637A) Gururam Das Pur, Delhi

16.     A-14, Radhe Puri Ext-2, Delhi

17.     Adjacent to 118/1, Gali no. 5, Kishankunj, Delhi

18.     13/2 Radhe Puri Ext.-2, Delhi

19.     A-22, Gali no. 6, Jagat Puri, Delhi

20.     R-8, Ramesh Park, Luxmi Nagar, Delhi

21.     B-19, Guru Ram Das Nagar, Indra Market, Delhi

22.     A-7/39, Lal Quarter, Krishna Nagar, Delhi

23.     R-4, Ramesh Park, Luxmi Nagar, Delhi

24.     R-9, Ramesh Park, Luxmi Nagar, Delhi

25.     805, Guru Ram Das Ext., Luxmi Nagar, Delhi

26.     A-90, Gali no. 6, Jagat Puri, Delhi

27.     F-60, Jagat Puri, Delhi

28.     R-7, Ramesh Park, Luxmi Nagar, Delhi

29.     R-3, Ramesh Park, Luxmi Nagar, Delhi

30.     14, Radhe Puri Ext-2, Delhi

31.     4/1422, Shalimar Park, Bholanath Nagar, Delhi

32.     F-79, Main Road, Jagat Puri, Delhi

33.     G-16/C, Radhe Puri, Krishna Nagar, Delhi

34.     G-19, Radhe Puri, Delhi

35.     804, Guru Ram Das Ext, Luxmi Nagar, Delhi

36.     Above ¼ Lal Quarter, Krishna nagar, Delhi

37.     Adjacent to R-7/1, Ramesh Park, Luxmi Nagar, Delhi

38.     Adjacent to A-7/42, Lal Quarter, Krishna Nagar, Delhi

39.     Adjacent to G-19, Radhe Puri, Delhi

40.     Adjacent to C-55, Purana Govind Pura, Delhi

41.     Adjacent to B-47A, Jitar Nagar, Parwana Road, Delhi

42.     Opposite H-83, Jagat Puri, Delhi

43.     Adjacent to D-103/4, South Anarkali, Delhi

44.     Adjacent to X-919, Chand Mohalla, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

45.     Adjacent to A-26, New Brijpuri, Delhi

46.     Adjacent to 46B, Gali no. 4, Purana Govind Pura Ext. , Delhi

47.     Opposite B-23, Gali no. 10, New Brijpuri, Delhi

48.     Adjacent to 10/118 Geeta Colony, Delhi

49.     Opposite 33, Purani Geeta Colony, Delhi

50.     Adjacent to 64/1, South Anarkali, Delhi

51.     Opposite 3/9, Geeta Colony, Delhi

52.     Adjacent to 2/66, Geeta Colony, Delhi

53.     Opposite 180-181, South Anarkali, Delhi

54.     Opposite B-1/1, South Anarkali, Delhi

55.     Opposite A-6, Jitar Nagar, Parwana Road, Delhi

56.     Opposite A-1, Sarojini Nagar, Geeta Colony, Delhi

57.     Adjacent to A-118, Aram Park, Shastri Nagar, Geeta Colony, Delhi

58.     X/3994, Shanti Mohalla, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

59.     1347 Subhash Road, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

60.     X-3625, Main Road, Shanti Mohalla, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

61.     1556 Main Road, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

62.     X-3625, Gali no.-5, Shanti Mohalla, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi

63.     Adjacent to A-88, Gali no.6, Jagat Puri , Delhi

64.     7/91 (B-27), Gali no.-7, Main Road beginning from Panchsheel Gali, Delhi

65.     27/113 Gali no.-6, Main Road, Vishwas Nagar, Delhi


In his reply, the Public Information Officer (PIO) stated that there was no information on record in the office and that action will be taken on unauthorized construction as per the rules. In some cases the PIO stated that he could not give information as the site had not been properly identified by the appellant.


Since the information received was either at variance with the ground realities, or no response was given, the Gupta then filed a first appeal in all the cases. He did not receive a satisfactory response from the First Appellant Authority (FAA) and he then approached the Commission with 65 Second Appeals.


As all the appeals concerned a similar subject matter, the Commission decided to dispose these Appeals together through a common order.


Mr Gandhi, the CIC, after registering all the 65 appeals, decided to conduct an enquiry in the matter under Section 18(2) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The inspection report revealed that unauthorized construction was either in progress or had been recently completed on most of the properties inspected in Shahadara South Zone, Delhi. Some of the properties were buildings of four and five storeys and the people there confirmed that the construction had been undertaken in the last six months. The Commission then directed the PIO to submit a reply before 22 September 2009.


After a survey of the properties, the PIO in his submission, acknowledged the illegal construction activities at the sites. In the amended reply, the PIO admitted that admitted that construction work was being undertaken in the different properties cited by the appellant and that no map had been passed by the MCD’s Building Department and no permission had been given to the construction. He further admitted that the complaint has been received regarding the unauthorized construction but no action has been taken.


During a hearing, the PIO admitted that 65 buildings have come up where no plans were approved. “Out of these 65, only four or five properties have been booked as unauthorized construction. The persons responsible to book the unauthorized construction are the Junior Engineers—Manoj Shah and Manish Kr Gupta. While Manoj Shah is employed on contract, Manish Kr Gupta is an employee of the MCD,” the PIO stated.


Mr Gandhi noted that from what was being described, it appeared that even these 65 unauthorised constructions were unlikely to be ‘booked’ for over a year. He asked the PIO if these unauthorized constructions are likely to be demolished.


The PIO who was the Superintending Engineer, very conveniently stated that he does not know what happens and that only the junior-most staff of MCD has any knowledge of what is happening. The SE stated that the demolition action is taken up depending on the whim and will of the junior staff. The PIO stated that he writes a number of letters to the Executive Engineer (B) and no action is taken.


Expressing distress, the Commission noted that organized illegal constructions are being undertaken in the capital apparently with the collusion of MCD and perhaps other official bodies. Mr Gandhi said, "This is a case where a citizen has taken the initiative to bring to light illegal practices of a very large nature before the authorities. However, in the last few months it is apparent that the MCD officials were interested only in covering up those indulging in illegal building construction.”


“The information that 65 illegal buildings have come up in a single zone has been exposed through a citizen’s use of right to information. In other RTI Applications, he (Gupta) has been given evidence of another 54 illegal buildings and he claims to have brought to the notice of the authorities another 90 buildings. A clear modus operandi which emerges in this case is that an illegal building is constructed in three to six months and during this period neither any cognizance of any complaint is taken nor any information provided under the Right to Information Act. After the whole building is constructed it is probably claimed that this is an old building and needs to be regularized,” the CIC noted in its order.


Mr Gandhi then allowed all 65 appeals. Finding PIO Ram Prakash and the APIO OP Vimal, guilty of not supplying complete, required information within 30 days, the Commission issued a show-cause notice to both.




Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/002120-002131, 002133-002185/4986

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/002120-002131, 002133-002185



Appellant                    : Rajender Gupta
                                            Shahadara, Delhi-110032
Respondent                                      : Superintending Eng. I & PIO
                                               Municipal Corporation of Delhi                                                           
                                                          Shahadara South Zone Delhi


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