26 Sep 2023 12:44 PM GMT
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave on Tuesday voiced his concerns about the rising trend of state governments demolishing the homes of people accused of crimes, emphatically stressing that the right to a home was a facet of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Misra was hearing a batch of petitions relating to a demolition drive held...
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave on Tuesday voiced his concerns about the rising trend of state governments demolishing the homes of people accused of crimes, emphatically stressing that the right to a home was a facet of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Misra was hearing a batch of petitions relating to a demolition drive held in April 2022 in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri – but ultimately stayed by the top court – as well as a separate plea against states resorting to the demolition of houses of persons accused in crimes. Other related matters were also being heard by the bench.
On the last occasion, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave expressed concerns about the impact of ‘bulldozer justice’ on the families of people involved in crimes whose houses have been demolished, urging the Supreme Court of India to ‘settle the law’ on whether such powers can be exercised by the State, especially to target a particular section of society. The senior counsel also raised apprehensions about the largely Muslim composition of the group of people hit by the local authority’s demolition notice in Jahangirpuri, but Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta harshly criticised this as an 'off-the-cuff submission'. The law officer alleged that the majority in the area was made up of Hindus, many of whom were affected by the demolition drive.
Due to the non-availability of the Solicitor-General, the hearing today got deferred until next Wednesday. However, during the brief courtroom exchange, Dave once again stressed the urgent need to lay down the law to prevent the State from bulldozing people's homes as a form of punishment -
"But you'll have to decide this once and for all. Every state is adopting this method of using bulldozers and demolishing homes. Everywhere, it has become a fashion. Imagine the plight of the families. The homes of accused people are being destroyed even before their conviction. Even if they were convicted, the court could not have imposed this sentence of demolition of their houses. Families are suffering. However heinous an alleged crime may be, you cannot go and demolish people's homes. What have their families done to invite this punishment? This will need to be heard and the law needs to be laid down. This court must intervene because the right to a home is a part of the right to life."
Dave urged that the Court should order the reconstruction of the houses demolished.
The petition filed by Islamic clerics body seek a declaration that authorities cannot resort to bulldozer actions as a form of punishment. Former Rajya Sabha MP and CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat has also filed another petition against the demolitions done by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Jahangirpuri area after the communal violence during the Shobha Yatra processions in April last year.