New Delhi, Nov 17 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today directed the Delhi Police commissioner to deploy more force in Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi to ensure the area is kept free from illegal hawkers encroaching upon it. Also Read - 'Creating Toolkit Not an Offence': 5 Big Statements by Court as Disha Ravi Walks Out of Jail

It also sought a report on the steps taken by the police and senior MCD officials to enforce its various previous orders on the issue of stopping encroachments in the area in the walled city. Also Read - Republic Day Violence: Delhi Court Sends Actor-Activist Deep Sidhu To 14-Day Judicial Custody

“The Delhi Police commissioner is directed to deploy larger force to ensure the area is kept free from illegal hawkers and squatters and people are free to walk,” a bench of justices G S Sistani and V Kameshwar Rao said. Also Read - Toolkit Case: Climate Activist Disha Ravi Gets Bail After 10 Days, Can't Leave Country Till Probe Ends

When the bench was informed that Delhi’s Public Works Department secretary Renu Sharma was seized of a similar matter pending before another court, it appointed her as the nodal officer in this case also.

The court asked the officials of the Delhi Police and civic bodies involved in the matter to consult Sharma who would also convene meetings with them.

The bench listed the matter for January 17 next year.

During the hearing, Delhi Police standing counsel Rahul Mehra submitted that serious steps were regularly taken to make the area encroachment-free but vendors resurfaced after the conclusion of a drive.

Mehra and additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal also suggested that as an experimental measure, entry of vehicles into the area should be stopped from 9 am to 9 pm for a week and alternative modes of transport such as e-rickshaw should used to take people to the market area.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal against encroachments in the area.

Advocate Sanjeev Ralli, appearing for the mandal, said parking of vehicles was one of the problems but hawking and squatting activities going on in the area should not be permissible.

He also said that roads and areas must be kept vehicle- free to ensure relief activity could be carried out in case of an emergency.

The court had earlier observed that the mess of electric wires dangling over the entire Chandni Chowk area was akin to “time bombs”, putting at risk the lives of people.

It had warned of serious action against the MCD and the police if they failed to stop encroachments there.

It had said that despite an apex court order that the police would be held responsible for encroachments in the area, it found that the orders were not being complied with.

Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi. It is located close to the historic Red Fort.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.