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The Delhi High Court bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar on Friday (July 13) noted that jhuggis in the Vasant Vihar area of Delhi, which is notified forest land, will have to be removed. To this effect, the court issued notices (with exemptions) to GNCTD, NDMC and DUSIB.

The case came up from a petition by Solil Chatterjee who wanted a stay on the eviction notice by the DDA. About 10,000 people have been living in cluster jhuggis there for nearly three decades. The petitioner said that people of the area are under threat, and children and women are under threat with the eviction notice.

The bench asked if this was forest land. While the petitioner’s counsel said he was not aware of this categorization, the respondent’s counsel (for the Lt. Governor of Delhi) said it was.

The respondents’ counsel said that there has to be some kind of rehabilitation plan for them, but unfortunately that does not exist.

The bench said: “You should read Supreme Court, Kuldeep Singh judgment. Authorities have no power to make plans for those who encroach upon forest land.” The ACJ said that “forest has to be cleared.”

The matter adjourned to August 13.

—India Legal Bureau

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