22 July 2023 1:00 PM GMT
The Supreme Court recently refused to interfere with a Delhi High Court judgment which held that dwellers of jhuggis which are outside the list of recognized jhuggi clusters are not entitled to rehabilitation as per the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act 2010.A bench comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Pankaj Mithal dismissed a special leave petition filed by a group of slum...
The Supreme Court recently refused to interfere with a Delhi High Court judgment which held that dwellers of jhuggis which are outside the list of recognized jhuggi clusters are not entitled to rehabilitation as per the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act 2010.
A bench comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Pankaj Mithal dismissed a special leave petition filed by a group of slum dwellers seeking benefits under the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy,2015 after their jhuggis were demolished by the NDMC authorities.
A division bench of the Delhi High Court, in its judgment delivered on February 21, 2023, had held that the jhuggis were at a distance of 3 km from the identified cluster and, therefore, cannot be said to be a part of it to claim rehabilitation and relocation.
Before the Supreme Court, the petitioners represented by Advocate Anupradha Singh submitted that DUSIB has the power to attach any jhuggi scattered in "nearby areas" and such jhuggi shall be considered a part of jhuggi jhopri basti.
The petitioner contended that the expression “nearby areas” under section 2(g) of DUSIB Act as interpreted by the High Court should have extended to at least 5 km distance to have a wider coverage of the concerned area.
The petitioner even referred to Board proceedings to point out that there is no clear-cut decision on what should constitute the “nearby areas”.
The Supreme Court examined the basis on which the High Court interpreted the term “nearby areas” and declined to interfere.
“We have also examined the basis on which the High Court has decided to take into account the 3 km distance to understand the coverage of “nearby areas”. We find no infirmity therein warranting our interference under Article 136 of the Constitution”, observed the Supreme Court while dismissing the SLP.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
The petitioners lived at Janta Colony, Naveen Shahdra in North East Delhi where they worked as blacksmiths and rickshaw pullers since 1997. On 20th September 2022, NrDMC along with Delhi police demolished their houses without giving notice. No steps for their rehabilitation were taken.
They filed a writ petition before a single judge bench of Delhi HC seeking a stay on eviction. They argued that they’re eligible for being rehabilitated as per Delhi Slum & JJ Rehabilitation & Relocation Policy, 2015(policy) and put forth-
“Nearby Areas” cannot be interpreted to mean located 3kms away from recognised clusters: Single Judge Delhi HC
The Single judge dismissed the petition by holding that “nearby areas” under section 2(g) would mean jhuggis which are adjunct to or an extension of jhuggi cluster. The petitioners' jhuggi being situated 3 kms from the notified cluster cannot be said to be located in “nearby areas”
The court held that the petitioners could not prove their existence prior to 2006- essential criteria for getting benefits under 2015 Rehabilitation policy.
Aggrieved by the decision, they approached the division bench of the Delhi High Court.
JJ Colonies existing before 2006 and JJ Clusters before 2015 cannot be demolished without alternate housing: Delhi Slum Rehabilitation policy, 2015
The High Court traced out how this issue related to the demolition of jhuggis and their rehabilitation has been dealt with. It referred to Sudama Singh v NCT of Delhi(2010) case which gave directions to rehabilitate and relocate persons living in jhuggis.
Govt of Delhi came up with Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act, 2010 for the purpose of establishing DUSIB. Under this Act, a rehabilitation policy, 2015 was prepared where DUSIB was given the responsibility for rehabilitation and relocation of jhuggi jhopri dwellers.
Under this policy, JJ colonies that came up before 2006 and JJ clusters which came up before 2015 could not be demolished without providing alternate housing.
Jhuggis not mentioned in list of recognised clusters not entitled to rehabilitation: Delhi HC
The Division Bench noted that the present area in question was not included in JJ clusters identified by DUSIB. The court referred to Vaishali v Union of India(2022) where it was held by Delhi HC that “since the JJ cluster in question therein did not find mention in the list of clusters which are entitled to the benefit of the DUSIB Policy, they are not entitled for rehabilitation measures”.
The plea that since jhuggis were located close to identified clusters and therefore, the benefit of rehabilitation should be given to them was rejected by the High Court.
The Division Bench observed that “The first cluster of jhuggis is at a distance of 3 kms. from the identified cluster and, therefore, cannot be said to be a part of an identified cluster.”
The Bench held that whether these clusters existed before 2015 or not cannot be provided by an affidavit under Art. 226/227. An appropriate petition can be filed before a competent court to led evidence and prove the same.
“The mandatory condition that has to be fulfilled for eligibility to claim rehabilitation as per Section 2(a)(i) of the 2015 Rehabilitation Policy is that a JJ basti must be in existence prior to the cut-off date i.e. on 01.01.2006, and an individual jhuggi in any such basti must have been in existence before 01.01.2015", it observed.
Aggrieved by the said decision, the petitioners approached the Supreme Court.
Case title: Manoj Kumar and others v Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 555
Petitioner represented by Ms. Anupradha Singh, Adv. Mr. Shiyas Kr, Adv. Ms. Amiy Shukla, AOR and Mr. Shakti Vardhan, Adv.
Respondent represented by Mr. Ajay Vikram Singh AOR, Mrs. Priyanka Singh, Adv. Mrs. Garima Singh, Adv. Mr. Shubham Singh, Adv. Mr. Omkar, Adv. Mr. Pankaj Kumar, Adv
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