The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with the demolition of jhuggis near Pragati Maidan here and granted a month's time to its occupants to vacate the premises. Justice Prathiba M Singh, who was hearing petitions by residents following a demolition notice issued earlier this year, said authorities may take action for demolition after May 31 and clarified that the petitioners shall be provided alternative accommodation in a shelter home according to applicable norms. "The petitioners are given a month's time to move to the shelter home as per applicable norms. After May 31, the authorities may take action for demolition. By the said date, all belongings of the petitioners will be removed," the court said.
The court noted that the jhuggis, which were on the side of Bhairon Marg, were not part of a "notified cluster" by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and therefore, no rehabilitation can be directed. It also noted that the structures in question were also at "considerable distance" from the recognised jhuggi cluster in the area. "A sketch has also been placed on record to show that the petitioners' jhuggis are on the roadside of Bhairon Marg," recorded the court, adding that since "they are not part of the recognised jhuggi", it was not inclined to interfere with the demolition or eviction. "The clear position in law as of today is that unless and until a jhuggi is part of a recognised cluster of DUSIB, no rehabilitation can be directed. Moreover, in this case, there is no doubt that the present jhuggi is not part of the recognised basti as map filed by submitted by the respondent shows there is a considerable distance between recognised basti which shows dense cluster unlike the location of the petitioner where there are some scattered jhuggis," it stated.
The petitioners had moved the court earlier this year against a demolition exercise by the Public Works Department (PWD), claiming to be part of the jhuggi cluster at Janta Camp Railway Nursery behind Pragati Maidan, which they said was a notified slum. In February, the court had stayed the demolition of the slum in question by and sought the stand of the Centre and Delhi government authorities on the issue.