December,14,2015: Stepping into the demolition row, the Delhi High Court on Monday came down heavily on the Railway Ministry and police for razing of a slum cluster in west Delhi and directed the authorities to immediately rehabilitate over 5,000 people rendered homeless in this biting cold.
A bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vibhu Bakhru further said this is a “pathetic act” as “peoples’ lives are involved and we cannot be so casual”. “It is dire situation where life and liberty of the people are in grave danger,” the bench said, noting that an infant had died though railways has claimed that the incident had “nothing” to do with the demolition. Taking note that the counsel for railways have failed to produce the relevant communication on which police went to demolish the slum at Shakur Basti here on Saturday, the court asked them to file their report before December 16 on the way they have and will be rehabilitating those who were rendered homeless.
The bench also asked the Delhi government to “coordinate with the authorities and provide every possible support they can to people who have been put to risk of life in this winter”. Senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra, appearing for Delhi government, agreed to it and said, “what needs to be done, we will do as we are not shying away from our duty”. He further said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal himself is monitoring the issue and has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the demolition drive and death of the six-month-old girl.
The court’s direction came on a public interest litigation filed by senior congress leader Ajay Maken, who sought that the ministry and Delhi police should be restrained from carrying out any further eviction or harassment of people living in Shakur Basti until all appropriate rehabilitation has been provided. Maken, through his counsel Aman Panwar also informed the court that besides ministry and police, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) should ensure that all displaced persons are immediately rehabilitated in temporary relief camps and shelter homes.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has also attacked the Centre and Kejriwal government over the razing of a slum, as he visited the site today and assured the homeless that he will fight their “battle”. The high court also said that there should be no further “violence” against those who have been left homeless. It asked the railways to give a survey report of the people living at Shakur Basti along with the number of people affected and who all can be rehabilitated.
The court also issued notice to the ministry, Delhi police, DUSIB and Delhi government directing them to file replies on the plea, which alleged that the demolition drive was done in “complete haste”. The plea said that the “demolition is in violation of the Master Plan Delhi 2021…”. The court asked what was the “tearing hurry to demolish the cluster in December”.
“You really don’t care about people, you just want to remove them. It is really a pathetic act. The attitude has to change. I do not know what the person thinks while passing such orders and the police also straightway follow such directions,” the bench said, adding that “every minute they are spending in the open is dangerous for them”.