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Supreme Court adjourns plea of slum dwellers against demolition, stay order to continue

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The Supreme Court today adjourned its hearing till September 3, in a plea against demolition of homes of over 10,000 slum dwellers living near the railway lines in the city of Surat, Gujarat alleging demolition without providing rehabilitation scheme is illegal, inhuman and violates Article 21 of the Constitution of India. (Utran Se Besthan Railway Jhopadpatti Vikas Mandal v. Government of India and Ors.)

The Solicitor General Tushar Mehra requested the bench to list the matter on September 3, 2021. The Bench comprising of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjiv Khanna in the meanwhile directed that the ad interim order to continue.

Yesterday i.e., on 24th August the Supreme Court bench comprising of the Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant had directed the Gujarat government to maintain status quo over the eviction of 10,000 slum dwellers. It directed the matter to be listed before an appropriate bench. Mr. Colin Gonsalves, Sr. Adv. had submitted that the demolition work was to start immediately. 

Background:

The High Court of Gujarat in a PIL matter titled as Rizwan Ahmed Usmani v. Government of India and Ors.  had on 19th August 2021 vacated the interim order of 23rd July 2014 that granted status quo to be maintained on the construction of Surat-Udhna upto Jalgaon Third Railway Line Project on the site of the slum dwellings. 

The SLP filed by Mr. Satya Mitra, AOR challenges this order of 19th August 2021. It is contended that the impugned order violates right to housing which is an essential ingredient of Article 21. The petition has been filed on behalf of about 10,000 slum dwellers. 

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It is pleaded before the Supreme Court that the impugned order affects the public at large relating to right to housing policy in Gujarat for slum dwellers who were residing on the railway land and are affected by the implementation of the project of laying down and constructing the Surat-Udhna upto Jalgaon Third Railway Line Project. 

The petition states that on 21st August 2021 the Western Railway Authority had issued notice that in 24 hours the demolition drive would start. The petitioners were thereafter informed that the jhuggi dwellers residing at the railway line were being forcefully asked to vacate their houses on the night of 23rd August by the police stating that demolition would start on 24th August.

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