Case title :
Shakarpur Slum Union V. DDA and Ors
Date of Order :
2nd August, 2022
Justice Subramonium Prasad
Petitioner- Shakarpur Slum Union
Respondent- DDA and Ors
While hearing a petition regarding the demolition of several hutments in the Shakarpur area, it was said that the DDA must act in deliberation with the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) as well as provide such people with an adequate amount of time and a temporary location before venturing on any demolition activities.
While hearing a petition pertaining to the demolition of several jhuggi jhopris in the Shakarpur area, Justice Subramonium Prasad stated that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) must perform in consultation with the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), and a reasonable time frame and temporary venue must be provided to such individuals before venturing on any demolition activities.
The parameters for who would be eligible for the DUSIB Policy were established.
Article 226 of the Constitution of India-A writ petition under Article 226 may be brought before any High Court whose jurisdiction the cause of action arises, in whole or in part. It makes no difference whether the authority against whom the writ petition is filed is inside or beyond the territory.
Section 9, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act, 2010- This section states that the Board shall have the authority to conduct a survey of any jhuggi jhopribasti in order to determine the number of residents, the existing requirement of health, hygiene, and civic amenities, the accessibility of medical and education institutions for the residents, and any other matter that may appear necessary to it in order to perform its functions under this Act.
- On June 25, 2021, without warning, DDA officials appeared in the neighbourhood and demolished around 300 jhuggis. The destruction is said to have lasted three days, and many of those whose jhuggis were destroyed were unable to recover their things.
- According to reports, police officers and DDA officials removed the occupants off the location. The Petitioner has filed this petition in response to the aforementioned activities.
- It was also said that the slum is mentioned in the JJ Clusters List issued by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board on its website for rehabilitation; hence, the DDA should have followed the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015 before beginning any demolition effort.
- According to the writ petition, the majority of the residents had documentation of residency prior to January 1, 2015, as needed by DUSIB Policy for commencing rehabilitation and removal.
- On 20.07.2021, notice was served in the writ petition, and an interim stay was granted.
- DDA filed a counterclaim, claiming that it had not carried out any demolition at the areas mentioned on the list of Additional JJ Clusters.
- It was further claimed that the destruction was carried out at a distance from the designated Clusters, and that the demolition was carried out in accordance with the National Green Tribunal's Orders.
- Whether the DDA had the authority to evict the slum dwellers without notice?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER
- It was stated that the people facing destruction had been living in the same area for a long time and had been forced to migrate several times since the DDA performed demolition in chunks. On June 25, 2021, the DDA destroyed around 300 Jhuggis.
- Furthermore, according to DUSIB Policy, residents of any JJ Basti that was established after 01.01.2006 and built jhuggis prior to 01.01.2015 were eligible for DUSIB Policy benefits. It was explained that in order to be protected by the DUSIB Policy, residents must have specific documentation, as indicated in the DUSIB Policy.
- It was then asserted that there was no record of the NGT ordering the eviction of residents from the Yamuna floodplains, as done by the DDA in contravention of the DUSIB Policy.
- It was submitted that the NGT heard an appeal for clarity about the DDA's demolition, and that the NGT explained that it is only concerned with pollution and is neither the authority or platform to hear arguments against demolition.
- It was further argued that the DDA and the DUSIB were obligated to obey the orders given by this Court in Sudama Singh v. Government of Delhi[2010 SCC OnLine Del 612] regardless of whether the clusters appear on the list of clusters notified by the DUSIB for the application of the DUSIB Policy or not.
- Furthermore, it was argued that the DUSIB had never undertaken a survey for the current cluster, and hence, without a survey, the DDA should not have carried out the demolition.
- It was thus proposed that a survey be done in these locations to determine if these Clusters existed prior to January 1, 2006 or not in order to be eligible for the benefits of the DUSIB Policy.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The counsel for the respondents stated that the residents had not been disturbed, and the demolition had taken place on the Yamuna floodplains, which were located far from the aforementioned clusters.
- It was submitted that a JJ resident would be eligible for the advantages of the DUSIB Policy only if the JJ Basti was built on or before January 1, 2006.
- It was added that the location of the demolition drive was not even close to the JJ Bastis. There was no evidence on file that the Petitioners lived in the aforementioned Clusters prior to January 1, 2006.
- It was submitted that the area that was the subject of the writ petition and where the DDA was carrying out the demolition effort has not been notified by the DUSIB to be a Cluster that existed prior to January 1, 2006.
- It was further asserted that members of the Petitioner-Union were engaging in the commercial activity of garbage segregation on the Yamuna floodplains, which was not only harmful to the ecosystem and morphology of the Yamuna, but was also illegal.
- The Court could not accept the Petitioner-contention Union's that they existed prior to January 1, 2006.
- The Court stated that the Petitioner's claim that they were originally residing in the Clusters as informed by the DUSIB and were relocated out due to the construction of the Delhi Metro and, thus, were entitled to rehabilitation under the DUSIB policy were pure questions of facts that the Petitioner had to demonstrate by leading evidence in their individual capacity.
- A review of the DUSIB Policy reveals that only clusters that existed prior to January 1, 2006 were eligible for the DUSIB Policy's benefits. The Petitioner-Union had been quite ambiguous in explaining when the Clusters in question were formed.
- It was stated that the Court could not be oblivious to the conclusions drawn in the Sudama Singh case, which stated that it was not unusual to find a Jhuggi dweller with the bulldozer at their doorstep, attempting to save whatever treasured little possessions and documents they had, which could possibly give testimony to the fact that the Jhuggi dweller resided at that location.
- The court stated that the DDA's conduct of expelling a person, whom they believed was an encroacher, from his house overnight could be allowed.
- it was further stated that before beginning on any such enterprise, the DDA must confer with the DUSIB, and people cannot be removed with a bulldozer at their door step early in the morning or late at night with no warning, leaving them homeless.Before beginning any demolition actions, such individuals must be given a fair length of time and a temporary place.
As a result, the current writ petition was dismissed, with the DDA directed to conduct future demolition only in conjunction with the DUSIB. The DDA was also required to provide the inhabitants enough time to make alternate arrangements or, otherwise, to take efforts to house the dwellers in the DUSIB shelters for 3 months so that the people whose jhuggis were being demolished could find alternate housing. Any pending petitions also were disposed of.
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