The Supreme Court on Friday summoned the Delhi Police Commissioner over non-implementation of the recommendations of a task force for removing encroachments and traffic bottlenecks in the national capital. A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said for the sake of people of Delhi, the court was summoning the police commissioner to explain the failure to implement the recommendations of the task force.
The apex court also took umbrage to an affidavit filed on Thursday by the Delhi government in the matter and said despite orders, no specific timeline had been given for removing traffic bottlenecks and encroachments in the city.
The bench asked advocate Wasim A Qadri, representing the Delhi government, as to why it would take two years to remove the traffic bottlenecks in the city.
Referring to the affidavit, Qadri said the two years time has been mentioned since constructions of flyovers, underpasses and foot over-bridges would take time.
"That means people of Delhi will have to face bottlenecks for another two-three years?" the bench said.
Responding to it, the lawyer said the Delhi government was already taking appropriate steps by removing encroachments on the roads which led to temporary congestion of traffic.
"We are removing encroachments from roads on a day-to-day basis," Qadri said and referred to a report prepared by the Delhi traffic police on the issue in February last year.
The bench then asked him as to how many people were encroaching roads and footpaths.
"You say there are encroachments on roads and footpaths. It is a very general statement," the bench noted.
It also ruled that the encroachments on the central verge, as stated in the Delhi governments affidavit, was a serious issue and people staying there have to be removed immediately as it may lead to fatal accidents.
The Delhi government, meanwhile, told the court that they were taking steps to broaden the roads to deal with the problem of traffic congestion, and they require some time to place before the court the status of all the steps taken by them and also the timeline to complete these works.
The bench then referred to the February 2017 report of the Delhi traffic police on traffic congestion and said appropriate steps have not been taken by the authorities.
"You call the Commissioner of Police. He is the in-charge of Delhi Police," the bench said while observing that there was hardly any implementation of the recommendations by the task force as well as the orders of the apex court.
At the fag end of the hearing, Qadri urged the court not to summon the Commissioner of Police.
"The problem in Delhi is that nobody is responsible here. Now you are saying that the Commissioner of Police is also not responsible. Tell us whom you want us to call. If you want us to call the peon who carries the file, then we will call him also. We want to know about it. For the sake of people of Delhi, we are calling the Commissioner of Police," the bench said and directed the police chief to remain present before it on the next date of hearing.
The AAP-led Delhi government had yesterday informed the Supreme Court about the timeline for removal of traffic bottlenecks at 77 "congested corridors", and said short term measures like minor improvements in road geometrics to deal with the issue would take six to eight months.
Elaborating the measures for removing such bottlenecks, the city government had said the same have been categorised as 'short-term' and 'long-term' measures, and also gave reasons for traffic congestion in the national capital.
In its affidavit filed in the top court, the Delhi government had said that under the long-term measures, six months time would be taken for approval of schemes and sanction of estimates for construction of subways, footover bridges (FoBs), underpasses and U-turns. Another 12 months would be needed for execution of work after the grant of approval.
The city government had also said that the task force has identified 77 "congested corridors" in the national capital and had put them in three categories.
It said under category 'A', there were 28 highly congested corridors, while category 'B' has 30 congested corridors. The rest 19 "less congested" corridors were placed under category 'C'.
The affidavit said the Delhi Traffic Police had identified several "main causes" for congestion, which included encroachment on roads, footpaths and central verge, illegal parking on roads, less width of roads, irregular pedestrian movement across roads and improper junction or intersection design.
Other causes of congestion are parking of vehicles on narrow lanes leading to petrol pumps and CNG stations, presence of trees, toilet and other structures infringing with traffic movement, non-availability of FoBs, subways, pedestrian crossings, U-turns, underpasses for vehicular movement and improper road geometrics, it said.
The apex court had on July 9 took umbrage that there was no appearance on behalf of the Delhi government during the hearing and no substantive status report was filed by them as per a May 10 order, asking them to file a status report indicating the timeline for removal of traffic bottlenecks.