The Delhi University’s plea challenging construction of a private real estate high-rise building in the University campus was dismissed by the Supreme Court on the grounds of “delay and laches.”
The Supreme Court dismissed the Delhi University’s (DU) plea against the construction of a high-rise real estate building in the North Campus, as permitted by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). On 12th May 2011, M/S Young Builders Private Limited received permission from the DDA for the construction of a housing society in the University campus without any height restrictions.
A total of three hectares of land was allotted to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) by the Ministry of Defence for the construction of the metro station, out of which two hectares were leased out for the construction of the private housing society. After a delay of seven to eight years, the University filed a plea challenging this construction before a single-judge bench in the Delhi High Court, however, the bench took note of the “delay and laches” and dismissed the plea on 27th April 2015.
Following this, a consequential intra-court appeal was moved before a two-judge bench of the High Court after a delay of 916 days. The court refused to overlook this delay of over two and a half years, pushing the University to move to the top court.
DU countered the DDA’s act of permitting construction of high-rise private buildings on campus and also sought to be excused for the delay in filing the first plea before the High Court. The University claimed that M/S Young Builders Private Limited’s construction of the group housing society was in violation of the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 and against the larger public interest, “given the fact that the project site in question and its vicinity are within the North Campus and that it contains historical buildings.” It also alleged that the construction site of these buildings was in proximity to various ladies’ hostels of the University, hence raising “an important privacy concern.”
However, top court bench, comprising Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna, stayed in agreement with the dismissal of the plea by the High Court on grounds of delay and laches. It said, “despite the writ petition having been filed belatedly in respect of certain actions which had commenced in the year 2005 and even though the writ petition was filed after obtaining approval of the Executive Council, no steps were taken to file the writ appeal for 916 days after disposal of the writ petition. In such circumstances, the cumulative effect of the delay and laches cannot be ignored”.
The Court also said, “We are of the opinion that not only the Single Judge was justified in holding that the writ petition inter alia is hit by delay and laches but the decision of the Division Bench in dismissing the LPA on the ground of delay of 916 days is also justified and the orders do not call for interference.”
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