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Perspectives

poor was asserted, reams were written to


Illegality and the Urban Poor explain,
– that the right to livelihood is an impor-
tant facet of the right to life;
“Cleaning up” the city usually employs demolition as an – that the eviction of a person from a
effective tool to clear the lands and disperse the poor. But for pavement or slum which will inevitably
lead to deprivation of the means of live-
decades, the violence of demolition was tempered by a policy of lihood is a position that needs to be es-
resettlement which, even when partially and imperfectly tablished in each individual case; that is
implemented, gave demolition a veneer of legitimacy. But the an inference which can be drawn from
notion of housing for the urban poor has acquired an “illegality” acceptable data;
– that empirically it could be concluded
in the last five years. The judiciary has been a significant that people who live in slums and on
contributor to this evolving jurisprudence on shelter, housing and pavements do so because they have “small
the urban poor. The constitutionality that ensured every citizen the jobs to nurse in the city and there is nowhere
fundamental rights of livelihood, housing and shelter has now been else to live” (p 575);
revised, reinvented and supplanted by a legality that sees the urban – they choose a pavement or a slum in the
vicinity of their work to cope with the
poor as encroachers and a threat to civic existence. costs of money and time;
– that “to lose the pavement or the slum
USHA RAMANATHAN forcibly evict them. It was heard and is to lose the job” (p 575).
decided by a constitution bench compris- And: “The conclusion, therefore, in terms

T
he position of the urban poor has ing five senior judges of the court, in of the constitutional phraseology is that
always been precarious. “Slums”,1 acknowledgement of the serious constitu- the eviction of the petitioners will lead to
jhuggis and squatter settlements, tional questions that were being consid- deprivation of their livelihood and conse-
where the urban poor find shelter and ered. The judgment reflects the struggle quently to the deprivation of life” (p 575).
housing, are not invested with legality. As of the court in installing the right to shelter Yet, since “the Constitution does not put an
“encroachments” on “public land”, they within the fundamental rights framework, absolute embargo on the deprivation of life
remain at the sufferance of the state and while yet allowing the state the power to or personal liberty”, the court could only
its agencies. When patience runs out, or clear the streets and spaces in the interests direct that the “procedure established by
when a programme of cleaning the city is of urban order. A conflict of interest was law” to effect forced eviction be followed.
being pushed, demolition is used as the found to exist between the pedestrian who In justifying the existence of such dras-
means to clear the lands and disperse the would need to use pavements and the tic powers, the state set out the scheme it
poor. The violence of demolition was, for pavement dweller, and the “existence of had for easing the pain of the urban poor,
decades, tempered by a policy of resettle- dwellings on the pavements (was) unques- and the court demanded the humanising
ment which, even when partially and tionably a source of nuisance to the public” of the power by holding the state to its
imperfectly implemented, gave demoli- (p 579), which the municipal corporation word. So,
tion a veneer of legitimacy. The past five was obliged to remove. It was also held – although providing “alternate pitches”
years have witnessed the casting aside of that “no person has the right to encroach, would not be a “condition precedent” to
this fig leaf of resettlement, consequent by erecting a structure or otherwise, on eviction, the state government was man-
upon a unidimensional understanding of footpaths, pavements or any other place dated to provide an alternative to those
the illegality of the housing of the urban reserved or earmarked for a public pur- who had been there from before 1976 “at
poor. In this, the obligation of the state pose like, for e g, a garden or a play- Malvani or at some other convenient place
to ensure that “economically weaker sec- ground” (p 589). So, forcible eviction of as the government considers reasonable
tions” (EWS) have housing; the link pavement and slumdwellers was not ruled but not further away in terms of distance”;
between land acquisition for planned out, although it was to be preceded by a – slums, which had been “in existence for
development and housing for the urban notice informing them of the impending a long time, say for 20 years or more, and
poor; and what constitutes the “public eviction and giving them an opportunity which have been improved and developed
interest” has got rewritten. The judiciary of being heard. In the case before the court, will not be removed unless the land on
has been a significant contributor to this it was directed that, “in order to minimise which they stand or the appurtenant land,
evolving jurisprudence on shelter and the hardship involved in any eviction, … is required for a public purpose, in which
housing and the urban poor. the slums, wherever situated will not be case alternative sites or accommodation
The Pavement Dwellers’ case (1985)2 removed until one month after the end of will be provided to them”;
marks the first serious contest, in the the current monsoon season…” (p 589). – the “Low Income Shelter Programme”
Supreme Court, between pavement and This was only one visage of the order. would be pursued earnestly;
slumdwellers and the power of agencies Lending another face, where the right – the “`Slum Upgradation Programme’ by
of state to destroy their dwellings and to constitutional existence of the urban which basic amenities are to be given to

Economic and Political Weekly July 22, 2006 3193


slumdwellers will be implemented without – became the agenda of the court, along intended to prevent the resettled from
delay”. with a version of environmentalism. This treating the resettlement plot as property,
On the same day, the five judge bench provoked attacks on “judicial activism”, but to restrict them to the terms of licence
pronounced judgment on a similar petition but these attacks did little to dent the le- which, if breached, could result in resump-
brought to them from Tamil Nadu. Having gitimacy and the power that the court tion of the land. This was the beginning
set out the various schemes that the state acquired in this process. As the 1990s drew of the de-legitimising of the urban poor
government claimed to have in place for to a close, what was not clear was the who were cast as “trespassers” and as profi-
housing the urban poor, the court was extent to which the original constituency teering on public lands. The draft annual
willing to conclude that “steps are being of PIL – the poor and the vulnerable to plan of the Slum and J J Department of
taken for the purpose of improving the whom constitutional and legal rights had Delhi inducts this direction, and resettle-
slums and wherever they cannot be im- to be reached – continued to have the court ment plots have since been, governed by
proved, alternative accommodation is on their side. licence.
provided to the slumdwellers, before they In giving text to the licence, the
are evicted”.3 So, the court closed with an The Right to Housing conditions may include:
expression of “confidence that the govern- – “(4) The licensee shall have no owner-
ment will continue to evince the same The Turkman Gate demolitions in 1976 ship rights. They shall not be allowed to
dynamic interest in the welfare of the pave- was shielded by the impunity that the sell/rent the plot. If it is sold/rented, the
ment dwellers and slumdwellers” (p 541). Emergency (1975-77) vested in those plot will be taken back.
Olga Tellis and K Chandru were taken who then wielded power.5 This shared the – (5) No one other than the licensee and
to court in the early years of public interest infamy with the mass arrests and detention her/his family may stay in the house/
litigation (PIL). PIL was a judicial device of the opposition, and the coercive allotted plot…
expressly intended to reach legal and sterilisation programme launched amidst – (8) If an adequate house is not con-
constitutional rights to a “person or deter- the population, which led to the ignomi- structed within six months of allotment,
minate class of persons (who) by reason nious defeat of the Indira Gandhi govern- the licence shall be terminated…
of poverty, helplessness or disability or ment at the polls in 1977. In 1990, the – (12) If the licensee has taken a loan from
socially or economically disadvantaged V P Singh government attempted identi- HUDCO (for construction of the house),
position (is) unable to reach the court for fication and enumeration of jhuggi dwel- and has not been able to pay back the loan
relief”.4 PIL demanded exercises in “juris- lers with an intent to improve their con- instalments for a period of six months, the
tic activism”, as it involved introducing dition, and to work at providing security licence will be automatically cancelled, and
variations into traditional litigation. The of housing. In the climate created by this the licensee will be evicted from the plot.
(i) dilution of the rule of “standing”, where pro-poor intervention, the Law Commis- – (13) Warning: Selling or buying the plot
any bona fide person could take an issue sion produced a report asking for a law that is against the law. In accordance with the
to the court, (ii) the idea of “epistolary” would give a statutory basis to the right directions of the Delhi High Court in
jurisdiction where a letter addressed to the of a jhuggi dweller to resettlement pre- CMP No 267 and 464 of 1993, the licensee
court may suffice for the court to take the ceding destruction of their homes.6 Such does not have ownership rights. If
matter on board, (iii), the non-adversarial a law was never enacted. That was also anyone other than the licensee or his/her
expectations of the court when matters of the time that earnest attempts were made family is staying on the plot, licence will
public interest were before it were among to bring in an amendment to the Consti- be cancelled and the person will be evicted
the significant departures from the conser- tution to make the right to housing a funda- without notice or without assigning any
vatism of judicial procedure. In reaching mental right. The V P Singh government reason.”
fundamental rights to those unable to access did not last long enough for these efforts In February 2000, in Almitra Patel vs
it on their own strength, the court acquired to reach anywhere. Union of India8 while dealing with a PIL
a certain moral legitimacy. Tracing many In 1993, when the judiciary began to on solid waste disposal, a three-judge bench
problems of the polity to executive apathy, express itself on the space occupied by of the Supreme Court spoke words that
inefficiency and abuse – bonded labour, urban poor in the city, it was an entirely have had a dramatic impact on the lives
undertrials forgotten in prisons, custodial different perspective that emerged. In of the poor in Delhi. Delhi as the capital
violence, for instance – the court increased Lawyers’ Cooperative Group Housing of the country, the court exclaimed, “should
its clout over the executive. The scandals Society vs Union of India, 7 justice be its showpiece”, and yet “no effective
of the state dragged into public view in PIL B N Kirpal, who was later to write the initiative of any kind” has been taken for
caught media imagination, giving the court Almitra Patel order from the Supreme Court “cleaning up the city” (pp 684-85). “When
a populist profile. By the early 1990s, the bench, spoke for himself and his brother a large number of inhabitants live in
power of the court had been enhanced judge: “It appears that the public exche- unauthorised colonies, with no proper
considerably because of its PIL portfolio quer has to be burdened with crores of means of dealing with the domestic efflu-
and procedure. rupees for providing alternative accom- ents, or in slums with no care for hygiene,
By the 1990s, too, the definition of modation to jhuggi dwellers who are tres- the problem seems more complex.”
“public interest” had begun to shift. passers on public land.” This comment Slums were also perceived to be “good
Corruption, misuse of discretion in the accompanied a direction that where resettle- business” and “well organised”, multi-
exercise of public power, protecting ment was done, the resettled should not be plying “in the last few years by geome-
organisations such as the Central Vigi- given the land on leasehold, as was the trical proportion”. To the court, slums repre-
lance Commission and the Central Bureau practice, but on licence “with no right in sented “large areas of public land...
of Investigation from political interference the licensee to transfer or part with pos- usurped for private use free of cost” (p 685).
– all issues of significance in any polity session of the land in question”. This was The “promise of free land, at the taxpayers’

3194 Economic and Political Weekly July 22, 2006


cost, in place of a jhuggi” was depicted was followed by redistribution of the lands an agenda and pursues it. In Delhi
as “a proposal which attracts more land acquired to various “land-owning Science Forum vs DDA,12 for instance, a
grabbers. Rewarding an encroacher on agencies”(LoA). Integrated development scheme to construct an “international
public land with an alternative free site is of the city, with housing for all classes of heritage centre, competitive housing”
like giving a reward to a pickpocket.” In people, commercial sites, spaces for street and such, was inaugurated in 2001 in the
fact, it was “slum creation” and not “slum vending and hawking, industrial establish- Vasant Kunj area of Delhi. The MPD clearly
clearance” that was occurring in Delhi. ments and land for other agencies and did not allow construction in the area, which
This gave “rise to domestic waste being organisations including the railways was was in a green belt/rural zone, and where
strewn on open land in and around the built into the MPD. severe groundwater problems existed. The
slums” which needed to be dealt with court invalidated the project, accepting the
“most expeditiously and on the basis of Slums and ‘Planned contention that the mandatory procedure
priority”. Creation of slums, which in- Development’ for prior land use change had not been
creased the density of the population followed by the DDA; but this did not
beyond the sustainable limit, needed to Slums were, needless to say, not envi- preclude the resumption of the project once
be prevented. sioned in the MPD. Yet, despite the statu- the defect was rectified. Since then, the
In 1996, the Industries Relocation case,9 tory mandate and powers to effect “planned DDA claims to have gone through the
which was about reconstituting the city development”, slums have proliferated. formality of the required procedure and
by exiling productive and manufacturing Why? The answer lies in what is termed construction has continued.
activities beyond its limits as being the “implementation backlog”. In June The privileging of the Delhi Metro Rail
“hazardous”, and B L Wadhera vs Union 2002, the committee on problems of slums Corporation (DMRC) has meant that an
of India,10 where directions were issued to in Delhi, constituted by the Planning Com- endorsement of its plans may be presumed
get municipal authorities to clean the city, mission, recorded in its report that the upon, even when they are widely divergent
had already begun to revise visions of the DDA is stated to own 25,377.2 ha of land, from the MPD. The construction of an
city, who its denizens should be, and what which is 17 per cent of all the land in the “Information Technology Park” at Shastri
the government needed to assist in the state. A report that the committee relied Park, on the Yamuna river bed, is one
materialising of those visions. on has found that “DDA claims that 20 per instance. This, and other “property develop-
Almitra Patel marks the judicial moment cent of the residential area is earmarked ment” projects along the metro line, on
when, (i) illegality was singled out as the for EWS/squatter populations under the land handed over to the DMRC for imple-
trait of the slumdweller, and (ii) “cleaning integrated development project. DDA has menting the metro project, run against
up the city” was declared to be the primary not allotted any land to slum and jhuggi section 11-A of the DD Act 1957; but
task in which governmental agencies jhompri department during 1992-97. In while challenge to such “development” in
needed to be engaged. 1997-98, DDA allocated 32 acres of land one area is pending, the DMRC continues
In this judgment, where providing “free” in Tekhand village…during 1998-99, about to deal with the excess property in other
land to a slumdweller for resettlement was 27.4 acres of land was allocated…” This areas unrestrained by the MPD.13 So too
decried, there is a significance in how the is in a city where, in a population of 14 the locating of the Akshardham temple
court treated land being made available for million people, about three million people complex and the Commonwealth Games
landfill sites. The problem, as the court were officially estimated as living in six village along the banks of the Yamuna,
recounted it, was that “land-owning agen- lakh jhuggis in about 1,100 jhuggi jhompri both of which were, cynically, coinciden-
cies like DDA or the government of NCT clusters.11 tal with mass demolition of the houses of
of Delhi are demanding market value of In the 10th Plan document, the Planning the urban poor, within sighting distance on
the land of more than Rs 40 lakh per acre Commission had said: “Urban housing the banks of the river in the first half of
before the land can be transferred to MCD”. shortage at the beginning of the 10th Plan the current decade. The governmental
But “keeping Delhi clean is a governmen- has been assessed to be 8.89 million units. agencies are not prevented from going
tal function…Not providing (landfill sites) As much of 90 per cent of the shortfall through the form of legalising the “change
because MCD is unable to pay an exor- pertains to the urban poor, and is attri- of user” which can make the illegal, legal.
bitant amount is ununderstandable”, espe- butable (among other reasons) to… (non) This is not a route that has been available
cially as “it is the duty of all concerned to provision of housing to slumdwellers”. to the urban poor.
see the landfill sites are provided in the The cause of the “illegal” occupation of On November 29, 2002, a division bench
interest of public health”. Public interest public lands is, then, directly attributable of the Delhi High Court struck out at
and state obligation was completely re- to the non-performance of state agencies. “encroachers” and those who had “squat-
cast in this judgment, where providing This has resulted in the use of the DD Act ted and trespassed” on public land.14 It
housing to the urban poor was castigated 1957 to acquire land and handing over the shot down the resettlement policy of the
even a providing land free for garbage land to LoAs, while neglecting the logic state and, in doing so, absolved the
was mandated. and mandate of the statute in integrated state of its obligation to assist the urban
It is instructive to test this depiction of planned development of the city. While poor in accessing affordable housing. The
illegality against the performance of gov- turning a Nelson’s eye on to the state’s peremptory direction read:
ernmental agencies under the statute. In breach of statutory duty, a spotlight has 7 No alternative sites are to be provided
1957, the Delhi Development Act (DD been fixed upon the illegality of the hous- in future for removal of persons who are
Act) was enacted to facilitate planned ing stock that the poor have squatting on public land.
development of the city. In 1962, the first created for themselves. Alongside this is 8 Encroachers and squatters on public land
Master Plan for Delhi (MPD) was notified. the tolerance of violations of the MPD, should be removed expeditiously without
Large-scale land acquisition by the DDA even complicity, when the state sets itself prerequisite requirement of providing them

Economic and Political Weekly July 22, 2006 3195


alternative sites before such encroachment that were being used twice over, in would not be a prerequisite for demolition,
is removed or cleared. acquiring the land, and, again, while reset- but it would actually render resettlement
On the way to issuing these directions, tling encroachers; (iii) this placed a pre- illegal. On appeal, the Supreme Court has
the court did acknowledge that “it is mium on illegality; and (iv) it was slum- partially stayed the order, where it permit-
undoubtedly the duty of the government lords who had benefited creating illegal ted allotments under the resettlement policy
authorities to provide shelter to the under- estates, the court decided that the resettle- to be made “subject to the result of the
privileged”. And the state had “admitted ment policy would have to go. petitions”.15 This interim stay has not,
their failure to devise housing schemes for Squashing the policy, the court closed however, altered the course on which the
persons in the economically weaker sec- with “the hope and desire that it would help Delhi High Court has been set. This is in
tions of the society”. Yet, this “lack of to make Delhi a more liveable place and evidence in the high court order in Maloy
planning and initiative…cannot be replaced ease the problems of the residents of Krishna Dhar vs GNCTD.16
by an arbitrary system of providing alter- this town who undoubtedly suffer and The case was taken to the Delhi High
native sites and land to encroachers on are harassed as a consequence of this Court by a resident of a set of apartments
public land”. This would “encourage encroachment of public land”. in the trans-Yamuna area in East Delhi. It
dishonesty and violation of law”. There is an omission that dictates how concerned three sites housing about 200
Impossibility of performance was held illegality is to be perceived: the state’s jhuggis on DDA land in the vicinity of
out as another reason for striking down the inaction in relation to EWS housing is housing complexes and a local shopping
resettlement policy. About 7,000 acres of mentioned, only to be relegated to irre- centre. The court had been informed that
land had reportedly been acquired by the levance. That land acquired to be used DDA could only remove the jhuggi clusters
DDA between 1990 and 2000, of which according to the master plan – which in- when relocation plots become available.
275 acres were utilised for slumdwellers. cludes integrated housing of the EWS – So, the court directed DDA to “relocate
At this rate, it would take 272 years to has not been so used due to the failure of the jhuggi clusters within a period of two
resettle those who had been in the site from governmental agencies has only received months and provide alternative sites to the
before 1998, and the acquisition and passing mention, and the illegality of such jhuggi dwellers in accordance with law
development cost for six lakh plots would failure has been glossed over. and policy”. In July 2004, the court chided
be Rs 4,20,000,00,000, making the propo- the DDA for not having acted, and it
sition unworkable. Illegality of Resettlement directed the vice-chairman of DDA to
Since (i) many of those resettled trans- explain the lapse, or be present in court
acted away their land to return to their Striking down the resettlement policy at the next hearing. The vice-chairman,
original site; (ii) it was taxpayers’ monies would mean not merely that resettlement DDA, on July 21, 2004, asked for six

3196 Economic and Political Weekly July 22, 2006


months to do what was required of him; have no legal right, what to talk of funda- The power to demolish, separated from the
the court, in September 2004, gave him mental right, to stay there a minute longer.” obligation to ensure housing for the urban
two months. But, well into 2005, he had And: “Nobody forced you to come to poor, is preserved in this law.
not acted. On September 21, 2005, the Delhi…If encroachments on public land This narrow construction of legality, and
court directed that the vice-chairman should are to be allowed, there will be the inversion of constitutionalism, has to
answer charges of contempt of court for anarchy.”20 These comments from the be urgently challenged.21 EPW
his inaction. In the process, the court bench are symptomatic of legality sup-
reiterated the November 29, 2002 logic planting constitutionality in current dis- Email: uramanathan@ielrc.org
against resettlement characterising course. This has been urged on by a range
the slum dwellers as “unscrupulous of threat perceptions, where the urban Notes
elements” and pitting them against the poor are seen as overrunning cities; their
“honest citizen (who) has to pay for a piece encroachment of public land as bordering 1 For how a slum is defined in law, different from
of land or flat”. Emphasising that “DDA on criminality; the occupation of public it commonly attributed meaning, see, Usha
Ramanathan, ‘The Demolition Drive’, EPW,
is a monopolistic organisation dealing with lands as being synonymous with 2005.
the land in Delhi”, the only “statutory slumlordism and profiteering; their 2 Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation
obligation” that the court found vesting in numbers as placing an intolerable burden (1985), 3 SCC, p 545.
the DDA was “to see that nobody should on infrastructure; and, the impossibility of 3 K Chandru vs State of Tamil Nadu (1985), 3
squat upon the land which has been put at their legal existence in cities as providing SCC, 536 at 541.
their disposal in terms of the DD Act 1957”. a prescription for anarchy. 4 S P Gupta vs Union of India 1981, Supp SCC,
In consequence, the court directed “the This has dictated how the fundamental 87 at 210.
5 For extracts from the Interim Report II of the
removal of jhuggis…within a period of right to livelihood, to move around and Shah Commission of Inquiry, see, ‘Shah
15 days forthwith. Any assistance required settle anywhere in the country, and to shelter Commission’s Findings – V: The Wrecking of
by the police shall be provided by the and housing has been revised, and rein- Delhi’ in Economic and Political Weekly,
commissioner of police.”17 vented, and supplanted by one version of June 24, 1978, pp 1019-21.
It is the relocation policy, with the onus legality. The inefficiencies of governmental 6 138th Report of the Law Commission on
on governmental agencies to find an agencies have acquired axiomatic status, ‘Legislative Protection for Slum and Pavement
Dwellers’, 1990.
alternative site where the urban poor may and the statutory power to acquire control
7 CW No 267 and CM 464 of 1993, Delhi High
be housed, which seems to have been the over land in the city has been preserved Court.
hurdle to mass demolition. In striking down while the statutorily mandated duty to 8 (2000) 2 SCC 679.
the relocation policy, demolition could be integrate the urban poor into the city and 9 (1996) 4 SCC 750.
demanded of governmental authorities, and provide them housing and livelihood has 10 (1996) 2 SCC 594.
the power to punish for contempt more been shelved, in the interests of pragmatism. 11 Affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the
effectively used. In Hem Raj vs Commis- In cleaning up the city through a strict Deputy Commissioner, Slum and J J Department,
Municipal Corporation of Delhi in the matter
sioner of Police,18 a court-appointed com- enforcement of legality, the court has also of Almitra H Patel vs Union of India WP (C)
mittee had recommended the demolition been ordering the bringing down of 888 of 1996, August 2, 2000, p 4.
of the jhuggis in Nagla Machi. Located at unauthorised structures, or parts of struc- 12 2004 (112), Delhi Law Times (DLT) in the
the T-junction from Pragati Maidan going tures, on pain of contempt. The relative Delhi High Court.
towards NOIDA, the “unauthorised occu- political clout of those whose buildings 13 Gita Diwan Verma vs DMRC WP (C) 6,500
pants” were reportedly encroaching on and activities are facing demolition is seen of 2005, Delhi High Court.
14 Okhla Factory Owners’ Association vs GNCTD
valuable land, had opened commercial in the way the Delhi Laws (Special Pro-
2003 (108) DLT 517, Delhi High Court.
shops, kept “buffaloes and other animals visions) Act 2006, coming into effect in 15 Interim order dated March 3, 2003 in SLP (C),
which not only give way to unhygienic May 2006, has been constructed. There is 3166-67 of 2003 and SLP (C), 6313-14 of 2003
conditions but also create hindrance to the a moratorium of one year on demolition in the Union of India and NCT’s appeal in the
smooth flow of commuters on the Ring of unauthorised structures, “whether in Supreme Court against the high court order
Road…” Four years had passed since the pursuance of court orders or otherwise”, dated November 29, 2002.
court’s order to remove and report to the because it “is causing avoidable hardship 16 WP 6160 of 2003, September 21, 2005, Delhi
High Court.
court, and it had not happened yet. “Non- and irreparable loss to a large number of 17 Also, Navniti CGHS vs Lt Governor WP (C)
compliance of directions passed by this people”. But, while removal of slums and 5697 of 2002, August 16, 2004, Delhi High
court for the last four years,” the court said, jhuggi jhompri dwellers and hawkers and Court.
“tantamount to abdication of responsibility street vendors are also covered by the 18 WP (C) 3419 of 1999, December 14, 2005,
of the authorities apart from wilful disobe- moratorium, the central government may Delhi High Court.
dience of the orders resulting in order their removal where “clearance of 19 Ram Rattan vs Commissioner of Police CC
3732 of 2006, dated May 9, 2006 (Supreme
unauthorised encroachment continuing to land is required for specific public projects”.
Court). See also, Sajha Manch vs Union of
remain where they were.” The commis- And, the “central government may, from India CWP 241 of 2006, May 12, 2006.
sioner of police, engineer-in-chief of the time to time, issue such directions to the 20 Dhananjay Mahapatra, ‘SC: Encroachers Have
PWD, and the special secretary, govern- local authorities as it may deem fit, for No Right over Public Land: Court Rules Poverty
ment of NCT were all hauled up to answer giving effect to the provisions of this act Cannot be an Excuse for Squatting’, Times of
charges of contempt.19 and it shall be the duty of the local authori- India, Delhi edition, May 10, 2006.
In dealing with the impending demoli- ties to comply with such directions”. This 21 This law has been challenged in the Supreme
Court. The Nagla Machi demonstrations have
tion in Nagla Machi, justices Ruma Pal and is despite the acknowledgement that a been stayed till the next date of hearing of the
Markandey Katju in the Supreme Court policy on relocation and rehabilitation of challenge to the law: Siddarth Narrain, ‘Four
are reported to have remarked, irately: slumdwellers in Delhi is still “under the Weeks’ Stay on Slum Demolitions’, The Hindu,
“If you are occupying public land, you consideration of the central government”. New Delhi, June 23, 2006, p 3.

Economic and Political Weekly July 22, 2006 3197