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Gujarat HC denies reduction to slum dwellers’ to retain proper on encroached land

The Gujarat HC upheld the right to shelter of slum dwellers’, however, stated that same cannot extend to retain right on land meant for pavement and footpath purpose.

The bench comprising of Chief Justice of Gujarat HC denied relief to petitioners (slum dwellers) who were uprooted from their houses in September, 2020 located at Gandhinagar Railway Station.

The petitioners in the instant case claimed to have settled near in said location around 1990s. the state government in July, 2020 passed demolition orders. The petitioners sought for interim relief but the same was denied.

Aggrieved by the order, the petitioners filed an appeal against the said order and sought for alternative accommodation. The state government contended that the dwelling place had not been declared as a slum in 1999.

Consequently, the alternative relief was denied to the appellants on the ground that they were not covered by Government Resolution dated July 03, 2003.

The bench ruled against the petitioners and stated that encroachers are bound to be evicted and cannot claim to stay there based on their right to shelter. The same is indeed protected under Article 19(1)(e) of Indian Constitution but one’s right should not infringe anyone else’s right.

The bench also relied upon Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Olga Tellis v Bombay Municipal Corporation [1985 (3) SCC 545] and stated that it is not mandatory for the state or corporation to provide alternative accommodation to the encroachers.

The bench also held that right to shelter is bestowed with each and every citizen, however, no one has a right to build structures on public streets or pavement, or any other place which is reserved for public purpose. The bench also suggested the government to come up with land allotment policies and also formulate rules to remove the encroachments. The bench opined that government must focus more on human-based approach than market-intervention approaches.

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