The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Thursday denied before the Karnataka High Court that they had carried an illegal demolition and eviction drive on the sheds in in the areas of Kariyammana Agrahara, Devarabeesanahalli, Kundalahalli and Bellanduru, alleging that they were occupied by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar has posted the hearing of a petition filed by People's Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL), Karnataka, to February 3, after it was informed that the Commissioner of Police is carrying out an inquiry into the incident and that the Advocate General would be appearing on the next date of hearing.
In regard to the letter issued by the Assistant Engineer, (BBMP) to the local police, requesting for police force to carry out demolition, the counsel for the corporation said
"The officer had received complaints from local residents about there being nuisance caused due to the settlement and thus he had acted upon it."
CJ A S Oka, then wondered why similar promptness is not shown by BBMP with respect to court orders.
"BBMP does not act on orders of the court", the CJ remarked.
Commenting at the attempt of the BBMP to distance itself from the incident, the CJI continued "If officer of BBMP acts so promptly on residents' complaint, he should be promoted not suspended".
After the demolition became controversial in the light of reports that the residents were Bengali-speaking Indians and not migrants, the civic body suspended one official.
The court has directed both the BBMP and State to make a statement on the next hearing date.
On the previous hearing the court had asked "Was it an external force that carried out the demolitions."
The court has also asked the land owners on which the sheds were built to file their replies and also make statement whether they had carried out the demolition.
The petition states that action taken by the BBMP and police was illegal and unconstitutional. The eviction drive was being undertaken on the basis of baseless rumours that Bangladehsi immigrants were occupying the lands.
The residents are migrants from North Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Bihar and are being victimized on the basis of their vulnerable socio-economic status, PUCL stated
"Every person has a right to shelter guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. That the right under Article 21, can only be deprived by way of a just fair and reasonable procedure established by law, which is absent in the present case. No order was issued by any statutory authority for the demolition of the said property.", the plea stated.