Dwellers of 48000 jhuggis were never heard by SC: Ajay Maken files application in SC seeking rehabilitation of slum dwellers before eviction
Litigation News

Dwellers of 48000 jhuggis were never heard by SC: Ajay Maken files application in SC seeking rehabilitation of slum dwellers before eviction

The IA states that the August 31 order was "inhuman and against public policy" as lakhs of children, women and elderly persons currently residing in the jhuggies will be left without a roof.

Debayan Roy

Congress leader Ajay Maken and a slum dweller have sought to intervene in the MC Mehta case, in which the Supreme Court recently ordered the removal of 48,000 jhuggies (shanties) along 140 kilometres of railway track around Delhi within three months.

The intervenors have approached the Court seeking that over 2 lakh residents of the 48,000 jhuggis are relocated before being evicted.

On August 31, a Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had ordered the removal of the jhuggis due to issues of environmental degradation, accumulation of plastic waste, etc.

The Bench had also ordered that there would be no stay on its order by any other court.

The application filed by Maken through Advocate-on-Record Nitin Saluja and Advocate Aman Panwar states that the slum dwellers were never heard in the case, and that the order passed was in violation of the Supreme Court's Olga Tellis verdict. It states,

"Jhuggi dwellers were not parties in the present Writ Petition before this Hon’ble Court, either directly or in representative capacity, their stance and the relevant documents could not be brought before this Hon’ble Court for its kind consideration. Olga Tellis & Ors. vs Bombay Municipal Corporation 1986 AIR (SC) 180, wherein this Hon’ble Court has held that there can be no justification for denying an opportunity of hearing to slum dwellers living on pavements/ public properties."

Intervention application filed by Maken

The IA states that the August 31 order was "inhuman and against public policy" as lakhs of children, women and elderly persons currently residing in the large slum clusters alongside the railway tracks will be left without a roof.

The applicants have further noted that the order preventing other courts from granting stay on the removal of the jhuggis amounted to grave obstruction to the right to access to justice. The plea reads,

"That a direction of the Apex Court restricting the Fundamental Right to Access to Justice is not only a grave violation of Article 14 and 21 as the Jhuggi dwellers cannot be treated as secondary citizens to deny them the remedies available under law."

The applicants have also moved a letter of urgency before Chief Justice of India SA Bobde stating that railway authorities have already begun identification and removal of the jhuggis and have ‘issued demolition notices’ in various slums in Delhi.

The urgency letter states that in doing so, the authorities have circumvented the established procedure by law with respect to rehabilitation of the slum dwellers prior to eviction/demolition of their jhuggis.

The letter for urgency states that residents of these slums will be rendered homeless amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plea further states that the railway authorities did not apprise the Court of the protocol for removal of jhuggis formulated by the Delhi High Court.

The said protocol, which was approved by the High Court, provided for a detailed survey of jhuggi dwellers sought to be removed and rehabilitation/relocation as a condition precedent to removal of jhuggis.

Moreover, the Government of NCT of Delhi had also formulated the Delhi Slum & JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015, which categorically provides for the rehabilitation of JJ bastis before their demolition.

However, the agencies deliberately did not inform this Court about the said policy, even though it categorically provides that no JJ Basti will be demolished without providing alternate housing to the inhabitants, the plea reads.

"Residents of the jhuggis cannot be considered ‘Secondary Citizens’ and the removal of the jhuggis will render these residents homeless thereby violating their human rights as well as the Fundamental Rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of India."

Intervention application filed by Maken

It is thus prayed that the jhuggi dwellers be relocated and rehabilitated prior to their eviction. It is also urged that the 2015 policy and the protocol for removal of jhuggis be strictly followed.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
www.barandbench.com