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Supreme Court halts proposed demolition of 200 'jhuggis' in Delhi's Sarojini Nagar

The top court while issuing notice in the case took the Additional Solicitor General’s statement on record that no coercive action will be taken till the next date of hearing

Published: 25th April 2022 07:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th April 2022 07:27 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday granted interim relief to slum dwellers in Sarojini Nagar by halting the proposed demolition of around 200 jhuggis in the area. The top court while issuing notice in the case took the Additional Solicitor General’s statement on record that no coercive action will be taken till the next date of hearing. It was hearing a plea challenging the removal of the jhuggis.

During the course of the hearing, senior advocate Vikas Singh appearing for the petitioners argued that thousands of them (slum dwellers) cannot be banished and vanish like that.

“Where do you expect thousands of people to go? there has to be some scheme,” he said.

Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj appearing for the central government while submitting that he needs time to respond to this, requested to court to just extend the relief to the petitioners which the court refused stating that it wouldn’t be fair to the others.

“... You say that you have to vacate the land. now these people have come from all over the country and they cannot afford rates elsewhere. You're dealing with families here," remarked Justice KM Joseph.

ASG added that merely because they have been enrolled on election rolls; it does not confer them rights in this matter. The bench comprising Justice KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said they would examine the matter on the basis of the documents relied on by the petitioners.

"You are a modern government here. This issue needs to be dealt humanly," he added.

The petition says that forced eviction of jhuggi residents will permanently disrupt and destroy their lives as about 200 families, including children, elderly and women will be forcibly thrown on the streets, without any alternate accommodation.

The petition was filed by minor Vaishali, through next friend Sita Devi and others.

The plea says that the petitioners do not seek to hinder any of the development work/ public projects undertaken by the government, and are only seeking rehabilitation/relocation as per the policies of the state.The petition has referred to various orders of the High Court of Delhi and said that forced eviction (without rehabilitation/relocation) of slum dwellers has been strongly disregarded.

It also said that concerned authorities cannot deny alternate accommodation/ rehabilitation for the indigent residents who have been living in jhuggis of Sarojini Nagar keeping in mind the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy, which provides that all Jhuggis that came into existence prior to January 1, 2016 are qualified to be rehabilitated. The questions of law raised before the top court are whether state resources are ought not to be distributed to provide basic minimum housing and shelter to those residing in jhuggis or slums since the 1980, and whether the denial to rehabilitation to the petitioners violates their right to shelter guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.



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