3 Aug 2022 10:47 AM GMT
Observing the action of Development Authority (DDA) in removing alleged encroachers 'overnight', the Delhi High Court has observed that persons cannot be evicted with a bulldozer at their doorstep "early in the morning or late in the evening" without any notice, rendering them completely shelterless. Justice Subramonium Prasad further added that a reasonable period has to be given to such...
Observing the action of Development Authority (DDA) in removing alleged encroachers 'overnight', the Delhi High Court has observed that persons cannot be evicted with a bulldozer at their doorstep "early in the morning or late in the evening" without any notice, rendering them completely shelterless.
Justice Subramonium Prasad further added that a reasonable period has to be given to such persons and temporary location has to be provided to them before embarking on any demolition activities.
"The DDA has to act in consultation with the DUSIB before embarking upon any such venture and persons cannot be evicted with a bulldozer at their door step early in the morning or late in the evening, without any notice, rendering them completely shelter-less. A reasonable period has to be given to such persons and temporary location has to be provided to them before embarking on any demolition activities," the Court observed.
The Court made the observations while dealing with a plea filed by Shakarpur Slum Union stating that it comprised of residents of Jhuggi Jhopri Bastis and slums of city's Shakarpur district.
On June 25 last year, the petitioner union claimed that the DDA officials, without any notice to them, arrived at the area and demolished about 300 jhuggis.
It was claimed that the said demolition lasted for three days and many of the people, whose jhuggis were demolished, could not even collect their belongings. It was stated that Police officials, along with the officials of DDA, removed the residents from the site.
The plea was thus filed seeking directions on DDA to suspend further demolition (if any) and maintain status quo at the demolished site until all residents are surveyed and rehabilitated as per the DUSIB Policy.
A direction was also sought on DUSIB to conduct a survey of the affected residents and rehabilitate them in accordance with the Delhi JJ slum Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015.
The Court disposed of the petition while directing DDA to carry out further demolition only in consultation with the DUSIB.
The Court also directed DDA to to give sufficient time to the dwellers to make alternate arrangements or, alternatively, steps should be taken to accommodate the dwellers provided by the DUSIB for three months so that the persons, whose jhuggis are being demolished, are able to find some alternate accommodation.
"Court cannot be ignorant of the observations made in paragraph No.60 of Sudama Singh (supra) that it is not uncommon to find a Jhuggi dweller, with the bulldozer at the doorstep, desperately trying to save whatever precious little belongings and documents they have, which could perhaps testify to the fact that the Jhuggi dweller resided at that place."
The DDA had filed an application for vacation of stay granted by High Court stating that demolition was carried out in the area which was located at a distance of approximately 200 meters onwards from the Yamuna River.
It was further stated in the application that the DDA intended to conduct a demolition drive in the Yamuna floodplains with the object of maintaining ecology of the same and that the drive was consonance with the DDA's 'restoration' project.
It was also stated that the members of the Petitioner- Union were carrying out the commercial activity of segregation of waste material in the Yamuna floodplains which was not only detrimental to the ecology and morphology of the Yamuna, but was also prohibited.
On the other hand, the case of the Petitioner-Union was that many of the members of the Union were residing in Ramesh Park and Lalita Park, and they had been dislocated from their earlier places because of a demolition drive which was conducted for the expansion of the Delhi Metro.
It was thus prayed that a survey must be conducted at these places to ascertain as to whether these Clusters were in existence prior to January 1, 2006 or not to be able to get entitled to the benefits of the DUSIB Policy.
"The survey conducted by the DDA and the maps filed before this Court show that Ramesh Park and Lalita Park are on one side of the Pushta Road and the places where demolition took place is across the Pushta Road, away from the Clusters identified by the DUSIB," the Court noted.
The Court said that the claim of the Petitioner-Union that they were initially residing in the Clusters as notified by the DUSIB and they were moved out because of construction of the Delhi Metro and, therefore, they were entitled to the rehabilitation under the DUSIB policy were pure questions of facts which had to be proved by the Petitioner Union by leading evidence in their individual capacity.
"It is well settled that while adjudicating a writ, a writ court cannot go into excruciating details of facts," the Court said.
It added "In order to get the protection of the DUSIB Policy, a JJ Basti ought to have been in existence prior to 01.01.2006 and a person should have constructed his jhuggi prior to 01.01.2015. This Court has also looked into the photographs filed by the DDA to show that the structures have been recently constructed and do not come under the definition of 'Jhuggi' under the DUSIB Act. The photographs also reveal that the structures are very close to the water bodies. The facts stated in the writ petition do not make out a case in favour of the Petitioner-Union."
"Encroachment on government land cannot be said to be a fundamental right of any person and a person encroaching upon government land cannot claim that he is entitled to rehabilitation as a matter of right even in the absence of any policy bestowing the benefit of rehabilitation and relocation on the said person."
The Court was informed by counsel appearing for DUSIB that when it conducts any demolition drive, it ensures that no demolition takes place when academic year is about to end or during monsoons. It was also stated that normally demolition takes place between March to June and August to October.
"This Court expects from the DDA to follow similar norms for demolition as well," the Court said.
The Court was of the view that as the NGT has assumed jurisdiction of the sensitive issue pertaining to the resuscitation and rejuvenation of the Yamuna floodplains, it will not be appropriate to disturb the same by way of directing the DDA to allow DUSIB to conduct a survey.
Needless to state that it is always open for the Petitioner-Union to take appropriate steps in accordance with law, lead evidence and establish that they are entitled to the benefits of DUSIB policy by way of being residents of Clusters at S. No. 553 & 569 which are described as Sayeed Peerwala Ki Mazar, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Shakar Pur Chungi Thokar 16, Lalita Park, Laxmi Nagar & Shamshan Ghat Thokar No.16," the Court said.
The plea was disposed of with aforesaid observations.
Case Title: SHAKARPUR SLUM UNION v. DDA AND ORS
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 746
Click Here To Read Order