Karnataka High Court
Karnataka High Court
Litigation News

Rehabilitate, give compensation to migrants whose shanties were burned down: Karnataka HC; Govt reveals miscreants had political backgrounds

Rintu Mariam Biju

In an order passed today, the Karnataka High Court directed the state government to rehabilitate and provide compensation to migrants in Bangalore whose huts had been burned down by miscreants earlier this year.

While doing so, the Court opined that the burning down of 90 unoccupied huts in March was a "very high-handed action", which violated the rights of the hut-dwellers.

This observation came in a suo motu plea dealing with the burning of temporary shanties that had housed migrant workers in the city.

The order passed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy reads,

"Prima facie, it appears to us that this is an instance of a very high-handed action on the part of the interest persons of destroying the huts thereby violating the constitutional rights under Art 21 of the Constitution of India of the hut-dwellers."

Karnataka High Court

The Bench also asked the state government to ascertain the whereabouts of the occupants of these huts. This apart, the Court went on to hold,

"The State must make inquiry to ascertain the whereabouts if the occupants of the huts which were destroyed in fire. The State will have to ensure that compensation is paid to them on account of destruction of their goods. They will also have to be rehabilitated."

The government has been directed to place on record the steps taken in this regard. Along with this, the state was also urged to place on record the status of the land on which the huts stood.

During the hearing, government pleader Vikram Huilgol submitted that there was a possibility that these hut-dwellers may have permanently gone to their hometowns before the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown commenced.

At this point, the Court referred to the two fire accident certificates which showed that ration kits, goods and other household items which were in these huts were also destroyed by the fire.

Noting this, the Court opined that,

"Thus, it appears from the fire accident certificates that the persons residing in the huts never wanted to abandon the huts as their ration kits, good and other household items were present. Perhaps, after declaration of nationwide lockdown on 22nd March...the occupants of the huts must have gone back to their places of origin in the State."

The Court was further informed by the state government that the miscreants - who included both arrested as well as absconding persons -were found to have political backgrounds.

The matter has been next posted for hearing on July 7.

Last week, the Court had directed the state government to place on record the reasons for its inaction in relation to the burning down of unoccupied huts of migrant workers in Bengaluru East back in March.

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