The Supreme Court was informed that no immediate removal of the slums near the Delhi railway track shall be done by the Centre as was directed by the Supreme Court through its 31st August Order.
Solicitor General’s Submissions with regards to the Slums near Delhi Railway Tracks
A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India was informed by the Solicitor General that till a solution is not arrived at by the Railways in consultation with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; there won’t be a removal of jhuggis near rail tracks. The said deliberation is to happen within 4 weeks.
Ajay Maken a Congress leader had filed a petition, after the Supreme Court, through its order dated 31st August, directed the removal of nearly 48,000 slum dwellings within three months around the 140-kilometer length of railway tracks in New Delhi.
Justices Arun Mishra (since retired), B R Gavai and Krishna Murari had expressed that no court should grant any stay on the removal of the slums.
The 31st August 2020 Order in relation to Delhi Slums
“The encroachments which are there in the safety zones should be removed within a period of three months and no interference, political or otherwise, should be there and no Court shall grant any stay with respect to removal of the encroachments in the area in question.”
Background of the Slum Case and the SC Order
The Supreme Court had been passing a slew of directions from time to time since 1985 in issues related to pollution in and around Delhi and the same was passed as an order in the M C Mehta Case.
In the affidavit presented by the Railways before the Court stating that there is a “predominant presence” of jhuggies in Delhi along with 140 km route length of track in the region of NCT of Delhi, the bench had passed the direction.
The Railways contented that about 70 km route length of track is affected by large jhuggie jhopri clusters existing in close vicinity of the tracks and summing up to a total of about 48000 nos of Jhuggies in the near areas.
It was also informed by the Railways that the National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, in October 2018 had already constituted Special Task Force for removal of encroachments from the Railway Property.
In response to the report submitted by the Environment Pollution (Protection and Control) Authority stating that the Railways was not in compliance with the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, the Railways had filed the affidavit.
The Railways also expressed that there was “political intervention” which comes in the way of the removal of encroachments.
Ajay Maken following the SC order moved the application seeking the recall of the directions to evict the slum dwellers. He had previously, filed a PIL in the Delhi HC seeking rehabilitation of slum dwellers.
The 2-time MP iterated that in (MC Mehta) the case the affected slum dwellers were neither party to the case, nor were they represented in any capacity hence, the Supreme Court without having considered their grievances had passed Orders.
Implications of the order to remove Slums
After the Order is given effect, the petitioner pleaded that close to 2.4 lakh people will be rendered homeless and doing so without hearing their part would be “one of the gravest tragedy and non-observance of principles of Natural Justice.” Asserting that the Top Court heard the Government, which wanted slums to be demolished, and “completely ignored the affected/ vulnerable population” by denying them an opportunity to be heard, the petition urges that there “cannot be a departure from the rule of Audi Altrem Partem, especially when the Jhuggi dwellers have been living in the shanties for 30-40 years.”