On March 17, the Delhi High Court said that the Delhi Government “has sought to make efforts to rehabilitate jhuggi dwellers on paper, the ground reality is far from desirable” concerning the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015.
The Court was hearing a plea moved by Keshav Sanyasi Gawo Shewashram, a trust established to maintain a Gaushala and a Shiv temple located at Shiv Hanuman Mandir, Bhairo Road, New Delhi. The Trust’s premises house ailing, old and abandoned cows, the Shiv temple and certain jhuggi dwellers.
On January 28, the Delhi Government’s Public Welfare Department “pasted Eviction Notices on all such premises located at Bhairo Road, New Delhi, directing the occupants to vacate the premises within 15 days. The Eviction Notice states that their failure to do so would result in their removal,” the Court noted. The notice stated that the occupants would be relocated to a shelter home in Geeta Colony, Dwarka, for three months.
The Trust challenged the eviction notice and sought directions to prohibit the Delhi Government from carrying out demolition/evacuation proceedings on the Trust’s premises. The single judge hearing the Trust’s petition passed an order which held that the Trust’s premises were not entitled to protection from demolition as it was not within the jhuggi cluster notified as per the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015. However, the single judge directed the authorities to allot an alternate accommodation to the Trust within a week, which would be exempted from the maximum three-month period as per the impugned eviction notice.
The Trust challenged the single judge’s order. The Trust argued that the Gaushala and Shiv temple has existed on the Trust’s premises for more than fifteen years, and the Delhi Government’s eviction notice is illegal and arbitrary. The Trust further argued that the area where the Gaushala is situated is near a notified cluster area. Therefore, the Trust is entitled to the same protections as the policy.
The Court observed that “For getting the benefit of the said Policy, the jhuggi should be in a jhuggi jhopri basti which has come up before 01.01.2006 and the jhuggi should be in existence prior to 01.01.2015 inside the jhuggi jhopri basti which has come up before 01.01.2006 and has been identified by the DUSIB as one of the clusters which is entitled to the benefit of rehabilitation under the DUSIB Policy.”
The Court added that “this is a pure question of fact to be proven by leading evidence, the same cannot be adjudged by this Court in its Writ jurisdiction.” The Court observed that the single judge’s order provides for an alternate accommodation to the Trust exempt from a stay of a maximum three-month period and therefore did not interfere with the single judge’s order.
However, the Court said that “although the Government of Delhi has sought to make efforts to rehabilitate jhuggi dwellers on paper, the ground reality is far from desirable. Due to this, this Court finds it necessary to reiterate that the right to housing being a part and parcel of right to livelihood, health, food, clean drinking water, sewerage and transport facilities, such facilities must be provided to individuals who will be relocated to Geeta Colony, Dwarka.”