Today, the Supreme Court of India refused to interfere with an order given by Delhi High Court to demolish illegal constructions in the Vishwas Nagar area. The bench comprising Justices Sanjay Karol and Aniruddha Bose ordered the Delhi Development Authority to stop the demolition for 7 days and allowed the dwellers to vacate the area voluntarily. Along with this, the bench sought a response from DDA by the first week of July regarding the question of rehabilitation of dwellers whose premises are being demolished. The matter was listed urgently today before the vacation bench because the demolition activity commenced on May 22, 2023, morning. The petitioner’s counsel urged that “In this scorching heat, they are demolishing my lords. If you don’t order status quo, they will demolish…No alternative arrangements have been made.”
Further, Counsel appearing for DDA mentioned that both the single bench and the division bench of the Delhi High Court sustained the case of DDA to remove the residents as they were illegal encroachers. To this, the bench ordered “We have been apprised that demolitions have started at 8 am today. So far as the right of the members of the petition to reside at their present dwelling place is concerned, we do not interfere with Delhi HC order.” Also, the top Court mentioned in the order, “If they don’t vacate by 29th May, it would be open to Delhi Development Authority to resume their demolition activities. We order that for a period of 7 days, no demolition activity shall be continued.”
Kasturba Nagar Residents Welfare Association moved the plea before the Delhi High Court claiming that various members of their association were residing at that place for the last 40 years. In the plea, it was claimed that the area includes over 200 jhuggis having valid documents such as Electricity Bill, MCD House tax Receipt, Caste Certificate, Voter ID, Gas Connection Bill, Birth Certificate, and others. The plea was dismissed by the single bench stating that clusters, identified by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board would be eligible for rehabilitation as per the Delhi Slum & JJ Rehabilitation & Relocation Policy, 2015.
This decision was upheld by the Division bench that said, “Filing documents to show that they have proof of residence is not conclusive proof of continuous stay in the area because this Court can take judicial notice of the fact that persons who stay in such bastis migrate from the place when they get a better accommodation or a new job but they continue to have papers showing these addresses. This issue can only be decided in proper suit where it has to be established by leading evidence that they continue to reside in these addresses.”