IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 12th Sep 2020
The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do. – Swati Sharma
EDITORIAL HUNT #133 :“Housing Rights of the Urban Poor | UPSC“
Housing Rights of the Urban Poor | UPSC
Mathew Idiculla is a lawyer and researcher on urban issues and a consultant with the Centre for Law and Policy Research.
Smothering the housing rights of the urban poor
A Court order, on Delhi’s slum dwellings, threatens to undo the promise of the right to housing offered in earlier verdicts
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Urban Planning : Infrastructure
Urban shelters in the shades of railway lines are evicted without rehabilitation. Enumerate steps for proper evacuation plan. -(GS 3)
- The Verdict
- Flaws in Order
- Landmark Judgements
- A three-judge Bench directed State authorities to remove the jhuggi jhopri clusters in the railway safety zone within a period of three months.
- Most shockingly, the order stated that “no Court shall grant any stay with respect to removal of the encroachments” and in case any such interim order is granted “that shall not be effective”.
- The Court observed that there is a “predominant presence” of slums in close vicinity of the 140 km-long railway line in Delhi.
- The Court ordered that these “encroachments”should be removed within three months and “no interference, political or otherwise, should be there.”
A FLAWED ORDER
- CONCERNS : The SC order which seeks to summarily demolish informal settlements of poor urban residents is deeply disturbing and raises serious legal questions.
- ABANDONING PRINCIPLES : The order is fundamentally flawed because the Court has ignored principles of natural justice, judicial precedents on the right to shelter, and state policies governing evictions.
- LONG-RUNNING CASE : The order was passed in the long-running case, M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India & Ors., regarding pollution in Delhi .
- OTHER PARTIES : The order was in response to a report by Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region on the piling up of garbage along railway tracks.
- LITTLE CONNECTION : However, neither this case nor the report concerns itself with the legality of informal settlements.
- FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS : The Court ignored its long-standing jurisprudence on the right to livelihood and shelter upheld in various judgments.
- OLGA TELLIS & ORS VS. BOMBAY MUNICIPAL CORPORATION : Concerning pavement-dwellers, a five-judge Bench held that the right to life also includes the “right to livelihood” and that no eviction shall take place without notice and hearing those affected.
- CHAMELI SINGH VS. STATE OF U.P : The Supreme Court recognised the “right to shelter” as a component of the right to life under Article 21 and freedom of movement under Article 19(1)(e).
- SUDAMA SINGH & OTHERS VS GOVERNMENT OF DELHI : The High Court of Delhi held that prior to any eviction, a survey must be conducted and those evicted should have a right to “meaningful engagement” with the relocation plans.
- AJAY MAKEN & ORS. VS UNION OF INDIA : Delhi High Court invoked the idea of the “Right to the City” to uphold the housing rights of slum dwellers.
EVICTIONS AMID PANDEMIC
- HELPLESS PEOPLE : The Supreme Court order that threatens to leave lakhs of people homeless amid a health and economic emergency is callous and unconscionable.
- MASS DISPLACEMENT : Over 20,000 people were displaced in 45 incidents of forced evictions between March 25 and July 31-Housing and Land Rights Network
- MASTER-PLANNING : Over the last three years, over five lakh people have been evicted, most often for various “city beautification” projects.
- RIGHT TO THE CITY : It is often through such political negotiations that residents of informal settlements incrementally make claims on housing and exercise their “Right to the City”.
- TRAIL AND ERROR : These residents would now need to employ a combination of political and legal strategies to protect their housing rights and ensure that no eviction or rehabilitation is conducted without their prior informed consent.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Housing Rights of the Urban Poor | UPSC