Sunday, June 4, 2023

Defence Ministry opposes plea of 200 Pakistani Hindu families encroaching on defence land, says their camps illegal

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The Centre has strongly opposed a plea of 200 Pakistani Hindu migrant families residing at Delhi Jal Board Maidan, Adarsh Nagar stating that camps which have been set up and established by them are “illegal” and result of “encroachment” on defence land. 

The Division Bench led by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh is seized of a plea by a social activist highlighting the plight of these migrants who are living without electricity for the past few years.

The Centre not only opposed giving any electricity connection to these Hindu migrant families but also against any sort of assistance to them in view of the illegal encroachment. “The petition is misconceived and frivolous and deserves to be dismissed in-limine,” said the reply affidavit filed by the Defence Estate Officer, Ministry of Defence. 

The Centre has further informed that in 2018, the Defence Ministry had accorded sanction for transfer of the land to the Defence Research and Development Organization and had been consistently following up with the concerned district and police administration for removal of unauthorized occupants from the defence land.

The present reply has been filed in response to a PIL filed by one Hariom, who has been working for the welfare of the Hindu minority migrants from many years, through Advocates Samiksha Mittal, Akash Vajpai and Ayush Saxena.  

The plea pointed out that 200 Hindu minority migrants families from Pakistan are residing in Delhi Jal Board Maidan in Adarsh Nagar region of the capital. The plea contends that most of these migrants are living on long term visa and hold valid Aadhar Card containing the same address on which they are currently living. The power distribution company refused to give electricity connection on the ground that these people do not have a valid ownership proof of applied address as Aadhar Card cannot be used as a proof of occupancy of the premises. 

The plea further stated that various representations have been made before concerned authorities, including the Delhi Government, but no action has been taken as yet.

In light of the above, the plea had sought directions to provide immediate electricity connection to these migrants, on the basis of their Aadhar Card, Long Term Visa and Passport, under the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (Supply Code and Performance Standards) Regulations, 2017. In addition, the plea seeks inclusion of Long Term Visa (LTV)/Passport as identity proof and Aadhar card as proof of occupancy under Rule 10 (2) and 10 (3) of the DERC Regulations, 2017; and a direction to the concerned authorities to accept aforesaid documents of these migrants for providing electricity connection to them.

Claiming that right to electricity is a part and parcel of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, the plea states thus: “Migrants who have come to India from Pakistan on account of their religious persecution believed that coming to India will give their kids a bright and safe future but their present existence without electricity in the slum has shattered all their dreams of meaningful existence. During the pandemic when all schools have gone online, there is no electricity in the Jhuggis (slums) and future of their children is in dark.”

The Division Bench of Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice  Amit Bansal had earlier issued notice and sought response from the Delhi Government, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, among others, in the matter.

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