Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

Local Authority Must Take Responsibility For Allowing Slum Encroachments In Railway Land : Supreme Court

Sneha Rao
13 Nov 2021 7:58 AM GMT
Local Authority Must Take Responsibility For Allowing Slum Encroachments In Railway Land : Supreme Court
x
"You allow the encroachment and then say the State is responsible….It is under the Railway Land but under your governance. You have to ensure that no encroachment takes place", Court told Surat Municipality.

The Supreme Court on Friday orally remarked that the local municipality authority must take responsibility for allowing encroachments of slums in railway lands. The Court made this oral remark while discussing the issue relating to who is responsible for rehabilitating the slum dwellers evicted from the railway land - whether the Indian railways, the Gujarat Government or the...

The Supreme Court on Friday orally remarked that the local municipality authority must take responsibility for allowing encroachments of slums in railway lands. The Court made this oral remark while discussing the issue relating to who is responsible for rehabilitating the slum dwellers evicted from the railway land - whether the Indian railways, the Gujarat Government or the Surat Municipality.

"If Local Authority has allowed encroachment to take place, how can State be responsible for rehabilitation?", the Court asked.

A Bench of Justices A.M.Khanwilkar and C.T.Ravikumar posed the above question to the Surat Municipal Corporation's Counsel while hearing a plea filed by Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves regarding orders for demolition passed by the Gujarat High Court for slums adjacent to railway tracks in Surat and Faridabad.

On August 24, the Apex Court had directed the State of Gujarat to maintain status quo with regards to demolition of 10000 jhuggis in the State. The order for maintenance of status quo was passed by the division bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant.

A Bench headed by CJI NV Ramana on September 29, 2021 had directed for maintaining the status quo with regards to proposed demolition of about 40 jhuggis near railway tracks in Faridabad.

At the onset, Senior Advocate Gonsalves for the petitioners clarified that the only question is of rehabilitation and who the duty fell on.

Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj submitted that there was no question of Railways making any rehabilitation scheme. "If at all they are entitled, it has to be done by the local administration...they have allowed jhuggis to be put up in Railway land," he submitted.

Advocate Dhaval Nanavati appearing for the Surat Municipal Corporation sought to argue that the burden of rehabilitation lay on the State and not the Municipal Corporation. He submitted that: "Before the High Court they have suggested to approach the State Government- Additional Chief Secretary, Urban and Development Authority to approach for rehabilitation scheme."

Further, he submitted that throughout the proceedings before the High Court, the petitioner had sought relief from the Railways and not the Local authority.

To which Justice Khanwilkar quipped that: "It cannot be open-ended. It has to be decided fast because demolition work has to commence, construction has to begin. Public projects cannot be put on hold because you don't have a rehabilitation policy."
Advocate Nanavati again pressed upon the court that the duty lay on the Railways. "Before the High Court, they (Railways) have said that they have some Rehabilitation Policy, " he argued.

Justice Khanwilkar retorted that if the Rehabilitation Policy of the Railways can be put on record then the Court would have no difficulty in asking the Railway to act on it.

"You are referring to a document which is not part of record? You are appearing before the Supreme Court, you must appear with some sense of responsibility. Whatever document you have relied on you should have produced."

Further, Justice Khanwilkar orally observed: "This adjournment is costing something for the project. We will impose costs on the personnel who are responsible for this delay!"

Repelling the argument that no responsibility lay on the local authority, Justice Khanwilkar said:

"We are directing you, the Local Authority, to take responsibility. You allow these slum areas to spread throughout the city and you will not take responsibility for that? The Municipal Corporation should take responsibility."

When Advocate Nanavati again tried to press upon the Court that the High Court had asked the Petitioner to approach the State and not the Local Authority to seek rehabilitation, Justice Khanwilkar responded: "We will direct the Corporation to take responsibility and make immediate arrangements….How can the state be responsible? You allow the encroachment and then say the State is responsible….It is under the Railway Land but under your governance. You have to ensure that no encroachment takes place."

Advocate Nanavati sought some time to take instructions from the officers concerned.

"This whole project is being delayed because of this issue. The project was conceived in 2018..3 years have gone by and nothing has happened because of this slum. Primary responsibility of governance is on the local body-why should the State be responsible for that. You have to be answerable for your maladministration at the local level, not the State, " the Bench observed while agreeing to the request of Advocate Nanavati to hear the matter next on 15/11/2021.

ASG K M Nataraj submitted that Railways has no Rehabilitation Policy as such. The Bench also observed that in the Faridabad matter, the High Court had recorded that Railways does not have any Rehabilitation Policy in place.
The matter is to be heard next on 15/11/2021.
Case Title: Utran Se Besthan Railway Jhopadpatti Vikas Mandal V. Government Of India & Ors| Diary Number 19714/2021 and Deepak Sharma & Ors v Union of India & Ors| Diary No 19647/2021




Next Story