Removal of 48,000 slum dwellings around rail tracks in Delhi: 16 slum dwellers move SC

Applicants have prayed that Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Trust be directed to conduct a demand survey of the JJ clusters, undertaking in-situ redevelopment and rehabilitation

Supreme Court of India (File photo)
Supreme Court of India (File photo)

NH Web Desk

16 slum dwellers have approached the Supreme Court seeking impleadment in the MC Mehta case whereby a Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had ordered removal of jhuggis near the New Delhi area, to address environment related issues, legal news website has reported.

Threatened by eviction from their homes, that too amid a global pandemic, the applicants have prayed that the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Trust (DUSIB) be directed to conduct a demand survey of the JJ clusters, undertaking in-situ redevelopment and rehabilitation.

It is submitted that out of the total 196 JJ clusters on the land of DUSIB, MCD and Govt. of NCT and its agencies, demand surveys of total 158 JJ clusters have been completed leaving 38 JJ Clusters. However, if the same is not completed, affected parties cannot be rehabilitated.

They further pointed out that they work in the markets and industrial areas near their residence and their eviction thereof will make it very difficult to earn their livelihood.

The applicants are also aggrieved for not having received an opportunity of hearing before the court.

They submitted that in 2016, the Director of the Railway Board had promised that no demolition would be carried out by them without joint notice by the representatives of DUSIB and Railways and without rehabilitation plan for eligible JJ dwellers. However, the eviction order of the top court deprives them of such benefit.

Moreover, they submitted, the United Nations Human Rights Special Procedures' COVID-19 Guidance Note categorically mentioned that the States must "Declare an end to all evictions of anyone, anywhere for any reason until the end of the pandemic and for a reasonable period of time thereafter... in conformity with their obligations under human rights law."

Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid will appear on behalf of the impleaders.

On Friday, Congress leader Ajay Maken too had moved the court seeking impleadment, pointing out that the order was passed in a matter (MC Mehta) where the affected slum dwellers were neither party to the case, nor were they represented in any capacity. Emphasizing that close to 2.4 lakh people will be rendered homeless when this order is given effect, by the Railway Ministry's own admission, he pleaded that doing so without hearing them would be "one of the gravest tragedy and non-observance of principles of natural justice."

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