Can’t evict people overnight without notice: Delhi HC

Updated on Aug 04, 2022 02:19 AM IST

The court’s remarks came on a plea by the Shakarpur Slum Union, a group of residents of a slum cluster in east Delhi’s Shakarpur district, who had challenged their overnight eviction by the Delhi Development Authority on June 25, 2021.

Can’t evict people overnight without notice: Delhi HC (HT FILE)
Can’t evict people overnight without notice: Delhi HC (HT FILE)

Encroachers on a public land cannot be evicted “with a bulldozer at their doorstep early in the morning or late in the evening” without any notice, thus rendering them completely unsheltered, the Delhi high court ruled on Wednesday, but added that a person encroaching upon government land cannot claim that he is entitled to rehabilitation as a matter of right.

The court’s remarks came on a plea by the Shakarpur Slum Union, a group of residents of a slum cluster in east Delhi’s Shakarpur district, who had challenged their overnight eviction by the Delhi Development Authority on June 25, 2021.

Justice Subramonium Prasad said that the action of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in removing a person, who they claim to be an encroacher, overnight from his residence, cannot be accepted, and added that reasonable time should be given to such persons to relocate to a temporary shelter.

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“The DDA has to act in consultation with the DUSIB [Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board] before embarking upon any such venture and persons cannot be evicted with a bulldozer at their doorstep early in the morning or late in the evening, without any notice, rendering them completely shelterless. A reasonable period has to be given to such persons and temporary location has to be provided to them before embarking on any demolition activities,” the court said in a judgment of August 2, which was made available on Wednesday.

However, while granting relief to the slum dwellers, the court added a caveat that encroachment on government land cannot be said to be a fundamental right of any person. “A person encroaching upon government land cannot claim that he is entitled to rehabilitation as a matter of right even in the absence of any policy bestowing the benefit of rehabilitation and relocation to the said person,” justice Prasad said.

In their petition, the slum dwellers sought a status quo on the demolition drive until all residents were surveyed and rehabilitated as per the policy of DUSIB, the Delhi government agency which looks after the slum clusters and provide civic amenities there .

Additionally, the slum dwellers had also sought directions to DUSIB to conduct a survey of the affected residents and rehabilitate them in accordance with the Delhi JJ slum Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015. They added that DDA officials demolished about 300 jhuggis without prior notice.

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The court directed DDA to carry out further demolition only in consultation with DUSIB. “The DDA is further directed to give sufficient time to the dwellers to make alternate arrangements or, alternatively, steps should be taken to accommodate the dwellers in the shelters provided by DUSIB for three months so that the persons, whose jhuggis are being demolished, are able to find some alternate accommodation,” the court said in a 51-page judgment.

DDA had also filed an application for vacating the stay granted by the high court on an earlier occasion, stating that the demolition was carried out in the area which was located at a distance of approximately 200 metres from the Yamuna.

DDA said that it intended to conduct a demolition drive in the Yamuna floodplains to protect the river ecology, and that the drive was in consonance with the agency’s river restoration project.

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    Reports from the Delhi High Court and stories on legal developments in the city. Avid mountain lover, cooking and playing with birds 🐦 when not at work

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