“The status report will also indicate whether night patrolling staff informs the SHO when any unmanned barricade is found, be it of an RWA or of the Delhi Police. The status report with details of all the police stations shall be filed before the next date of hearing under the signature of the Delhi police commissioner,” the bench said.
The bench, which was hearing a matter in which the high court had earlier taken suo motu cognisance of a letter written to the prime minister, which was in turn sent to the court for taking action against the placement of unmanned barricades on several roads in south Delhi, listed the matter for further hearing on January 9, 2023.
At the outset, the bench told the Delhi Police’s counsel, “I hope you must be following the guidelines (on barricading) diligently.”
As the Delhi government’s standing counsel, Santosh Kumar Tripathi, replied in the affirmative, the bench asked what action was being taken in case of non-compliance of the order.
The court said it had earlier expressed apprehensions that in case of a medical emergency, these unmanned barricades block the road, causing inconvenience to people.
“This eventually happened when one of the sitting judges had to take his mother to a hospital in the Greater Kailash area and he could not reach anywhere,” the bench said, adding that the incident took place on the intervening night of October 26-27 on the roads leading to the National Heart Institute.
“We are telling you about a specific instance. When we can see it, why can’t you see it that still there are unmanned barricades?” it asked the police’s counsel.
The court said it has nothing to do with the status report of the police when practically, orders are not being complied with.
“We had said that even for security purposes, you cannot leave the barricades unmanned. Those are your standing orders and we had only said that you will comply with those,” the bench said.
It said even if the barricades are put up by RWAs, those have to be manned.
Police had informed the court in September that no unmanned barricade will be left on the roads and people can report about any unattended barricade on helpline number 112 or by tagging the Delhi Police on Twitter and action will be taken immediately.
The city police had also instructed its officials that while giving an approval to barricaded checking, the district DCP would consider that checking would be allowed in the peak traffic hours only in case of exigencies.
“Further, barricaded checking to be avoided at points prone to traffic congestions like intersections, junctions, turns and near bus stops, loops and other such places where chances of traffic build-up are higher,” it had said.
The court said despite an undertaking given by police that there will be compliance of the revised standing order, unmanned barricades are still being found at various places in Delhi.
“Whenever there are barricades, they have to be manned by Delhi Police and RWAs, so that there is no hindrance to any person who has to pass through the area in case of an emergency. Instances have been pointed out to the standing counsel for the Delhi Police. He will submit a report on it,” the bench said while dictating its order.
The court had noted that the Delhi Police, in its status report, said a standing order on “procurement, maintenance and operational usage of mobile barricades” was revised in 2021 and it has been instructed that under no circumstances, the barricades should be left unmanned and should be removed from the carriageways and footpaths when not in use so that they do not cause any traffic hindrance or become a cause of potential hazard for motorists and pedestrians.
The court had said unmanned barricades serve no purpose and cause harassment to the public, and asked the city police to submit the protocol followed by it for placing barricades.
“The issue raised by Om Prakash Goel (who wrote the letter to the prime minister) requires consideration since these unmanned barricades on roads prima facie serve no purpose and indeed cause inconvenience and harassment to the public at large. Such barricades also have been used to set up kiosks and for parking vehicles,” the court had said.
A public interest litigation (PIL) matter was registered by the court in February, while taking cognisance of the letter written on December 10, 2021 by Goel, who claims to be the president of Delhi Pradeshik Aggarwal Sammelan, to the prime minister, which in turn was sent to the court.
Goel had raised grievances relating to the setting up of unmanned barricades in the Kalkaji and C R Park police station areas in south Delhi and referred to several media reports on the issue.
He had contended that these barricades serve no purpose and block the free flow of traffic, causing misery and harassment to vehicle owners and the general public and leading to long traffic snarls and hold-ups. PTI SKV RC