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'Deal With Them Humanely, You Can't Simply Throw Them Away' : Supreme Court Asks Centre To Stop Eviction Of Sarojini Nagar Jhuggi Dwellers

Srishti Ojha
25 April 2022 9:54 AM GMT
Deal With Them Humanely, You Cant Simply Throw Them Away : Supreme Court Asks Centre To Stop Eviction Of Sarojini Nagar Jhuggi Dwellers
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In an interim relief to jhuggi dwellers from Sarojini Nagar in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Central Government to desist from taking coercive steps to evict them."Deal with them humanly when you deal with them. As a model government, you can't say you won't have a policy (to rehabilitate) and simply throw them away. You're dealing with families..", a bench led Justice KM...

In an interim relief to jhuggi dwellers from Sarojini Nagar in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Central Government to desist from taking coercive steps to evict them.

"Deal with them humanly when you deal with them. As a model government, you can't say you won't have a policy (to rehabilitate) and simply throw them away. You're dealing with families..", a bench led Justice KM Joseph told Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj.

The ASG undertook to take no coercive steps against the slum dwellers in the interim. The bench, also comprising Justice Hrishikesh Roy, issued notice on the petition. and listed it on next Monday for the Centre's reply.

The bench was considering a petition filed by petition filed by jhuggi dwellers from Sarojini Nagar against the demolition/ eviction orders without rehabilitation or relocation of the Slum Dwellers.

The present special petition has been filed challenging order passed by the Division Bench of Delhi High Court refusing to interfere with Single Judge's order declining to provide Rehabilitation/ Relocation of the Slum Dwellers residing in Jhuggis of Sarojini Nagar, New Delhi.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the petitioners had documents like voter ID cards.

"We can't just banish them, where do you expect thousands of people to go? Some scheme has to be there", Singh submitted. He pointed out that Board exams are starting from tomorrow and some of the petitioners are attending the same.

"They have documents like those from election commission to show that the jhuggis have been there for some time", the bench pointed out to the ASG.

"Having some documents where for election they've been enrolled doesn't confer them right", the ASG replied.

The bench said that it needs to examine the matter on the basis of the documents produced by the petitioners and also in the light of the judgment of the Delhi High Court in the Ajay Maken case which discussed the right of rehabilitation.

"Don't precipitate till then. We can have it day after but don't precipitate issues", Justice Joseph said.

"Look at your notice, what we've found in impugned notice is that you've said hand over the government  land. People from all over india, go occupy lands, something they don't have a choice with. They can't afford the rates", Justice Joseph said.

The ASG requested that the interim relief should be confined to the petitioners alone and not to the entire slum dwellers. But the bench did not agree.

"We're looking at documents which say they have been there for 1996. Should it be that only these people be protected and not the others?When court is examining matter, we can't let the issue be precipitated. if you have difficulty in saying it we will say it. They are asking for a survey, you can't overlook that", Justice Roy said. 

The order passed by the bench stated as follows :

"ASG has been served with copy today seeks time to address court, list on Monday. We record ASG's submissions that no coercive action will be taken till the next date of hearing"

The petition filed through Advocate Aman Panwar and Advocate Nitin Saluja has stated that the petitioners along with about 1000 persons/ about 200 families have been residing in the said Jhuggis for more than four decades i.e. since the 1980s.

The petitioners have submitted that urgency in the present case arises out of the fact that the Respondent No. 1 had issued demolition/eviction notices and the houses of the Petitioners will be demolished anytime. In view of the same, the Petitioners are in urgent need of relief from the Court since irreparable injury and grave prejudice will be cause to their life and liberty.

The Petitioners have submitted that they do not seek to hinder any of the development work/ public project undertaken by the Government, and are only seeking rehabilitation/relocation as per the policies of the State.

The petitioners have pointed out that in view of the various pronouncements of the High Court of Delhi wherein forced eviction (without Rehabilitation/ Relocation) of Slum Dwellers has been strongly disregarded. And also keeping in mind the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy, which provides that all Jhuggis that came into existence prior to 01.01.2006 are qualified to be rehabilitated,

The petitioners have argued that the Respondent Authorities cannot deny alternate accommodation/ rehabilitation for the indigent jhuggi residents considering the following:

  • The various pronouncements of the High Court of Delhi wherein forced eviction (without Rehabilitation/ Relocation) of Slum Dwellers has been strongly disregarded.
  • The Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy, which provides that all Jhuggis that came into existence prior to 01.01.2006 are qualified to be rehabilitated.

Case Title: Vaishali & Ors vs Union of India & Ors

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