The Delhi High Court on Friday pulled up the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for its failure to take possession of a park near Jama Masjid which is alleged to be in the “illegal possession” of the Jama Masjid authorities [Mohd Arslan v Govt of NCT of Delhi & Ors]..A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna ordered the MCD to take steps to take possession of the parks. The Delhi Police has also been directed to assist the MCD officials if any police assistance is required.“As the counsel for the MCD states that the North Park and South Park abutting the Jama Masjid, despite being public parks, are not in their possession, this court directs the MCD to take action in accordance with law. If any police assistance is asked for, the same shall be provided,” the Court ordered.A status report has also been ordered to be filed before the Court in four weeks. .The Bench was hearing a plea seeking directions to free parks around Jama Masjid from encroachments.The MCD’s counsel told the Court that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had handed over the possession of a set of parks around Jama Masjid to MCD in the year 2007.It was stated that while physical possession of all other parks was with the MCD, they were stopped from entering the North Park and the South Park.The counsel added that recently, they were allowed entry into the South Park and the said park was now being maintained by the MCD. However, the North Park is still locked and is in the possession of Jama Masjid authorities, the Court was informed. It was stated that the North Park has a wuzu khana (ablution pond) as well. .The Bench expressed its displeasure at the situation, opining that the encroachment of public parks cannot be allowed.“We are not living in a country where there is no rule of law. We are living in the 21st century… Public parks cannot be taken over… What are you telling us in the 21st century? How can this be? Every day, we are asking for preservation of parks. People of Delhi cannot breathe,” Acting Chief Justice Manmohan remarked.He added that a statutory authority like MCD cannot lose possession of public parks and that the authority holds these parks in public trust.“If you [MCD] are the owner of the park, you hold it in public trust for the citizens of Delhi. It seems your officers are living in some other world. You cannot lose the possession of a public park,” the judge said.The matter will be heard next on December 21.