The Delhi High Court has dismissed an appeal by slum dwellers against the single-judge order requiring those living on the Yamuna floodplains to vacate the place within three days or face a fine of Rs 50,000 to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB).
On March 15, a single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh issued an order requiring slum dwellers of Bela Estate to leave their jhuggis.
During the hearing, the court said the petitioner Bela Estate Mazdoor Basti Samiti has neither proved that these jhuggi-jhopdi (JJ) clusters were notified by the DUSIB nor that the jhuggis were constructed before January 1, 2015.
Hence, the slum dwellers are not entitled for the relief of rehabilitation as per DUSIB’s Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015, the court said.
Justice Gaurang Kanth said, “This court is of the considered view that the petitioners are not entitled for rehabilitation as per DUSIB Policy, 2015. Consequently, in view of the detailed discussions, the present writ petition is dismissed.”
During the last hearing on March 21, before a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had informed the benchA that it has cleared the Yamuna floodplains of encroachment and razed the jhuggis that the court had ordered to be removed.
The bench had asked the DDA to file an affidavit in relation to the exercise.
“Has the demolition taken place?” it had asked.
To this, advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, appearing for the DDA, had said: “Yes, it has been completed. It is over.”
The lawyer had added that the notice was given before the demolition in compliance with the requirements and the occupants were informed about the nearest DUSIB shelter.
“Counsel appearing for DDA has stated before this court that encroachment has already been removed. Let an affidavit be filed,” the bench had said.
The inhabitants have been farming on the land for many years, according to their lawyer Kamlesh Kumar Mishra, who also brought up the subject of their rehabilitation.
Earlier, Justice Singh had passed the order after the DDA told the court that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had taken note of the pollution level of the Yamuna and on January 9, constituted a high-level committee.
While constituting the committee, the NGT had requested the Delhi Lt Governor, who is the Chairman of the DDA and Administrator of Delhi under Article 239 of the Constitution, to head the Committee.
On January 27, the high-level committee passed directions to take immediate steps to control pollution of the river and remove encroachments on Yamuna floodplains.
While dismissing the plea by the residents, the court had permitted strict action to be taken by police.
“The Deputy Commissioner of Police concerned of the area will render all support during the said action,” the court directed.
DDA’s counsel Kaur had submitted that the encroachment had been removed twice but the residents again came back to the same place.
“Do you know how much damage is being caused to Yamuna, you are occupying it,” the bench had asked counsel representing the residents of Moolchand basti located on the Yamuna floodplains at Bela Estate, Rajghat.
The residents had filed a plea stating that in August 2022, the Delhi Police and DDA officials threatened them to vacate their jhuggis which will otherwise be demolished.
While stating that the DUSIB in its affidavit stated that as the ‘basti’ did not figure in its notified list, the residents were not entitled to rehabilitation, the court directed the DDA to proceed with the demolition after three days.