Before Mumbai went to the polls last month, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government said it would regularise tenants living illegally in transit camps and buildings redeveloped by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA).
The departments dealing with the issue, however, have been against the proposal for months and have told the government that regularising these 22,002 tenants will be contempt of court.
There are 8,858 families that live illegally in 56 Mhada transit camps — illegally because, while the transit camps are meant as alternative accommodation for tenants of cessed building that are being redeveloped, these residents got the rights transferred fraudulently. Similarly, 13,144 families are illegal tenants of buildings redeveloped under the SRA scheme — these illegal tenants bought the flat from the legitimate residents before the lock-in period of 10 years. Tenants in slum rehabilitation buildings are not allowed to sell their flats for 10 years.
Days before the civic polls, the BJP had said these tenants can be regularised after paying a penalty for the illegal stay. When the proposal came before the cabinet on January 9, however, officers from the housing department opposed it, warning that such a step could be against high court and Supreme Court rulings.
The cabinet then appointed a sub-committee of six ministers headed by housing minister Prakash Mehta. During the first meeting of the sub-committee on Thursday, officials from the housing and law and judiciary departments told the committee regularising illegal tenants may be in contempt of court. “Both the Bombay HC and the Supreme Court have ruled against regularisation of illegal tenants. The courts had also rapped the government for not evicting such residents for years. Any amendment in the existing act, with a retrospective effect for regularisation, would set a bad precedent. We have been opposing the move since the beginning,” said an official from the law and judicial department.
Shiv Sena leader and transport minister Diwakar Raote,who is a member of the sub-committee, backed the officials and opposed the regularisation.
Mehta has now asked the officials from the two departments to work out a way to regularise these tenants by levying a certain penalty.