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Supreme Court asks Union Government to refrain from taking coercive steps to evict slum dwellers in Sarojini Nagar

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The Supreme Court has asked the Union Government to refrain from taking coercive steps to evict about 200 slums from the Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar.

The Division Bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy issued notice to the central government and other respondents.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh argued that can we just banish them where do you expect thousands of people to go? There has to be some scheme.

Singh submitted that Board exams are starting from tomorrow and the petitioners are students , there are precedents that they have to be rehabilitated.

Counsel for Delhi government said that the slum dwellers must be protected as they are the jhuggi protection scheme.

Justice KM Joseph asks the petitioner to read the Ajay Maken judgment.

Justice KM Joseph said ,

“we read your impugned notice. You say that you have to vacate the land. Now these people have come from all over the country and they cannot afford rates elsewhere. As a modern government you cannot say you will throw them out. you have to engage willingly”.

The Bench did not agree to the request of the ASG that the interim relief should be confined to the petitioners alone and not to the entire slum dwellers.

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The Supreme Court will hear the matter on May 2.

On April 22 the Top Court agreed to hear a plea challenging the Delhi High court order which declined to provide Rehabilitation/ Relocation of the Slum Dwellers residing in Jhuggis of Sarojini Nagar, New Delhi.

The Division Bench of Delhi High Court had refused to interfere with the order dated April 11, 2022, passed by the Single Judge of Bench of Delhi high court.

The petition was filed by a minor girl through her next friend Sita Devi by advocate Nitin Saluja.

According to the Petition , even though 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 High Courts below have allowed the demolition of jhuggis/eviction of the slum dwellers as per the order dated 04.04.2022 issued by the Union of India , and no alternate arrangements have been made for the said indigent and poor slum dwellers.

It is submitted that the Petitioners do not seek to hinder any of the development work/ public projects undertaken by the Government, and are only seeking rehabilitation/relocation as per the policies of the State. Further, the forced eviction of jhuggi residents in question, will permanently disrupt and destroy the lives of jhuggi dwellers, as about 200 families, including children, elderly and women (including pregnant women) will be forcibly thrown on the streets, without any alternate accommodation. The residents of the said jhuggis are extremely indigent persons such as dhobis, daily wage laborers, rag pickers, maids, street vendors etc. and they do not have any other source of residence.

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Grounds mentioned in the Petition:-

  • BECAUSE the High Court failed to consider that two Single judges of the same High Court, vide Orders dated 24.12.2021 and dated 11.01.2022 have recently granted protection to jhuggis which were not being awarded consideration under the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy, 2015 and were on the verge of being uprooted from Delhi.

-BECAUSE the Supreme Court in Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation (1985) 3 SCC 545 acknowledged the right to shelter as forming the part of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

  • BECAUSE the High Court failed to consider that the Petitioners and the other residents of the jhuggis of Sarojini Nagar have been residing in the said jhuggis for the past several decades, and all residents have proper proof of identity/residence .
  • BECAUSE the High Court has failed to appreciate the fact that in addition to the Petitioners, hundreds of persons living in about than 200 jhuggis at the Jhuggis of Sarojini Nagar, New Delhi, live on a hand to mouth basis and earn their bread by working as daily labourers, rickshaw pullers, dhobis, sanitation workers etc.

-BECAUSE the High Court has failed to appreciate that some of the Petitioners are school going children and studying in schools located in Sarojini Nagar itself and they are set to appear for their board exams which are scheduled to commence from 26th April.

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-BECAUSE forced eviction of Slum Dwellers have been strongly condemned by the High Court in Sudama Singh Vs. Government of Delhi & Anr. 168 (2010) DLT 218 (D.B.) and; Ajay Maken Vs. Union of India & Ors. (260 (2019) DLT 581 (DB).

-BECAUSE the Apex Court in Chameli Singh V. State of U.P., (1996) 2 SCC 549 considered and held that the right to shelter is a fundamental right available to every citizen and it was read into Article 21 of the Constitution of India as encompassing within its ambit, the right to shelter to make the right to life more meaningful.

  • BECAUSE the High Court has failed to acknowledge that as per the policy of Delhi Government as well as the Central Government, all slums/ jhuggis that came to existence before 01.01.2006 are eligible for rehabilitation under the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy, 2015.

-BECAUSE the impugned order is bad in law because the High Court in Ajay Maken (supra) has held that the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy, 2015 would apply uniformly to all the jhuggis of NCT of Delhi.

-BECAUSE the High Court has ignored the fact that under Clause 6(ii) of the said Protocol, the Land-Owning Agency i.e. Union of India in the present case, ought to have sent a proposal for removal of the slum in question to Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB). However, no such procedure was followed.

-BECAUSE by ignoring the Protocol, the Petitioner’s Jhuggis have been denied the opportunity to be identified as Notified Jhuggis under Clause 6 (iii) of the said Protocol.

-BECAUSE the High Court failed to take note that the jhuggis of Sarojini Nagar squarely meets the criterion of being notified as a Jhuggi Jhopri Basti under Section 2(g) of the DUSIB Act, 2010 as the jhuggis of Sarojini Nagar have been in existence since 1980 (cut-off date being 01.01.2006) and the same are inhabited by about 200 households/ families, which is far more than the minimum requirement of 50 households. Therefore, the said jhuggis meet all requirements for being notified as jhuggi jhopri basti under Section 2(g) of the DUSIB Act, 2010. However, the DUSIB/ R-2 has failed to consider the same.

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-BECAUSE the High Court failed to appreciate that the residents of the jhuggis cannot be considered ‘Secondary Citizens’ and thrown on the road, especially when the said 21 persons have been residing in the said jhuggis for several decades.

-BECAUSE the High Court failed to consider that none of the Residents of jhuggis in question possess any other alternative place to live in Delhi as neither do they own any land nor they can afford any rented accommodation in Delhi and that all of them had shifted to Delhi in order to earn their livelihood as there is no work opportunity in their respective native villages and now, the forceful eviction from their jhuggis with no hope for any resettlement will leave them without any shelter and livelihood.

-BECAUSE the High Court has even failed to acknowledge the fact that the demolition/eviction notice dated 04.04.2022 have been issued without the issuance of any Show Cause Notices or even granting an opportunity of being heard to the victims of the said illegal action. That the illiterate and under privileged residents of the said colonies were suddenly issued the said demolition/eviction notice dated 04.04.2022.

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