The Supreme Court has ordered the removal of close to 48,000 slum dwellings situated along railway tracks in Delhi within three months, and to ensure compliance of its order, has stopped any court from passing an order of stay against such removal. In the event an order is passed, the same shall have no effect on the eviction proceedings, the court ruled. The verdict was uploaded on the Supreme Court website on Tuesday night. Justice Mishra demitted office Wednesday.
The court has passed the extraordinary order in exercise of its power under Article 142, which states, “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.”
The court, which was hearing an application filed in the MC Mehta case relating to Delhi pollution matters, took this step on Monday, after the Indian Railways informed the court that despite a Special Task Force constituted to remove encroachments, political interference was coming in the way of getting the jhuggis removed. An order for removal of all encroachments passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 1, 2018 had led to the formation of the task force.
Going through an affidavit filed by the Railways, the apex bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari said: “There is predominant presence of jhuggies in Delhi along with 140km route length of railway track in the region of NCT of Delhi… Out of this, about 70km route length of track is affected by large jhuggie jhopri clusters existing in close vicinity of the tracks.”
These clusters aggregated to about 48,000 jhuggies, most of which were present within the security zone of the Railways, according to the affidavit filed by Ashwani Kumar Yadav, additional divisional railway manager at DRM Office, Delhi Division, Northern Railways. There are no official estimate as to how many people live in such slums. NGOs say that the land-owning agency, the railways in this case, will have to do a survey to ascertain the number of dwellers.