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Hauz Khas Village restaurants get temporary relief from Delhi HC


The Delhi High Court today gave restaurants in the capital’s Hauz Khas Village a breather after clarifying that the observations made in the previous order were temporary and not final.

This, after the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) filed an application in Court on behalf of restaurants in the area. Lalit Bhasin appeared on behalf of the applicant.

On the last date of hearing, the Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar had described Hauz Khas Village as a “ticking time bomb”, based on reports highlighting the lack of civic an emergency services at establishments in the area.

The Court had noted, among other things, the flouting of municipal laws, the lack of hygiene, the impact on safety and the environment, and the arbitrary granting of licenses for bars and restaurants in the popular area. These observations were based on reports filed by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, the Delhi Fire Services, the Delhi Jal Board and other civic bodies.

In its application, NRAI states that it was given oral liberty to file responses to each of the reports of the above-mentioned authorities on September 5, and the same was filed in the form of an affidavit on September 11. On the last hearing, it is contended, the Court did not have occasion to look into the same. It states,

“The said Affidavit completely demolishes the allegations made in the Writ Petitions as also in the various Reports. The Applicant is yet to file its responses by way of Affidavit to the Reports to DFS, DJB; Delhi Police etc…”

It goes on to state that restaurants have been running for the last three decades, without any untoward incident occurring, as projected in the petition.

“In any case, if there is any violation of the aforesaid norms, guidelines, Rules, Regulations and conditions of licenses, it is always open to Regulatory Authorities to take appropriate action against the erring entity which violates the law.”

The application also notes that the lead petitioner in the case had earlier filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal that restaurants in HKV did not have environmental clearances. The NGT had passed an interim order shutting down 33 restaurants pending the installation of Effluent Treatment Plants therein. The suspension was then lifted once the restaurants complied with the same. Thus, the applicant states, the petition in the Delhi High Court is barred by res judicata, insofar as the 33 restaurants are concerned.

It is also claimed that consequent upon the Court’s observations during the last hearing, the authorities were not considering the restaurants’ applications for renewal of licenses. Moreover, the authorities have been sending the applicant restaurants show cause notices.

Further, it is contended that the livelihood of 4000 employees will be at stake if the restaurants in HKV are not allowed to continue. The employees looking to be impleaded in the matter were represented by Arush Khanna.

“The said employees have been working for decades and the means of livelihood would be snatched away by the Authorities which are exercising arbitrary and unfettered powers not sanctioned by law.”

Thus, it was prayed that the adverse observations made by the Court be struck from the record, and that the Court clarify that the same would not stand in the way of the grant/renewal of licenses to the applicant restaurants.

The Delhi High Court ceded to the applicant’s prayer, making it clear that the observations made by it on the previous hearing were not final but preliminary in nature, and shall be subject to final outcome of the PIL after hearing all the parties. The Court also allowed the employees to be impleaded.

The matter will next come up for hearing on October 30.

Read the application:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://nrai.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/APPLICATION2-PANKAJ-SHARMA-26.09.2017-watermark.pdf”]

Source: Bar & Bench

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