The Delhi High Court on August 2 said people cannot be evicted with a bulldozer at their doorstep early in the morning or late in the evening, without any notice, rendering them completely shelterless. States must accommodate people at shelter homes or give them reasonable time to find alternate accommodations before embarking on any demolition activities.
The court said that while people do not have a right to encroach on government property, it was dealing with a human problem and the right to shelter was recognised as a right that needed to be protected, especially for those who will have no place to go with their family and belongings if they are faced with midnight demolitions.
The high court referred to its 2010 Sudama Singh judgment where it had directed the state government to formulate a comprehensive protocol and rehabilitation policy to ensure that people who have encroached upon government lands are not rendered shelterless.
The high court's order came on a plea filed by a union of slum dwellers who challenged the demolition drive in which almost 300 jhuggis were razed to the ground on June 25, 2021. Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials had demolished the jhuggis on the Yamuna flood plains in East Delhi without prior notice. The plea submitted that the demolition drive lasted for three days and many residents—mainly comprising of labourers, rag pickers, rickshaw pullers, auto drivers and domestic workers—who lost their homes could not even collect their belongings.
Police officials, along with DDA officials removed the residents from the site, the plea added.
Most of the residents, in this case, had been relocated to their present address when their homes were demolished in 2006 as part of Delhi Metro's expansion plan.