The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a plea filed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) seeking to stop the demolition drive in South Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, PTI reported. The demolitions had been ordered by a Bharatiya Janata Party-run civic body.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai directed CPI(M) to approach a High Court instead.

Meanwhile, the demolition drive in Shaheen Bagh was halted on Monday morning after a massive protest erupted in the Muslim-dominated neighbourhood which was among the prominent sites where demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act were held in 2019 and 2020.

Protestors shouted slogans against the South Delhi civic body and the central government, demanding to stop the demolition drive. However, Rajpal Singh, the chairman of the South Delhi body’s standing committee said that from 11 am on Tuesday, encroachments in Delhi’s New Friends Colony will be removed, ANI reported.

At the hearing of the plea on Monday afternoon, the Supreme Court asked why a political party had filed the petition, Live Law reported. “We can understand if somebody aggrieved is filing the writ petition,” the court said.

When the CPI(M) urged the court to put a stay on the demolition drive for two days, Justice Rao declined.

“Not at your behest,” the court said. “If hawkers are encroaching, they will be removed.”

The petitioner, however, said that legitimate buildings in Shaheen Bagh were being demolished under the guise of an anti-encroachment drive. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, argued that no structures were being demolished, NDTV reported.

When the petitioner pointed out that no notices had been given before the demolitions, Mehta said that it was not required to remove encroachments.

The CPI(M) withdrew its petition after the court asked it to do so.

“We have not given licence to anybody to come here to say my house cannot be demolished even if it is unauthorised,” the court said . “We cannot interfere, that too at the instance of political parties.”

Monday’s demolition drive was part of a month-long exercise announced by South Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor Mukesh Suryan on April 25. The mayor, however, does not have the power to order such action. A similar exercise was conducted in the Tughlakabad area on May 4.

The South Delhi mayor had launched the demolition drive days after the North Delhi Municipal Corporation had razed shops and homes, mostly owned by Muslims, in the city’s Jahangirpuri area despite a stay order by the Supreme Court.

The Jahangirpuri demolitions were carried out just four days after the locality was hit by communal violence. Eight policemen and a civilian were injured after a clash between members of Hindu and Muslim communities during a Hanuman Jayanti procession.