Delhi High Court has questioned the demolition of a slum dwelling, allegedly located in the precincts of the Presidential Estate for the past 40 years, and sought responses from the Centre and the Delhi government.
The Court also issued notices to the New Delhi Municipal Council, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) asking them to respond as to how the persons, living in the alleged 'jhuggi' which has been razed, have been issued government cards including voter ID and passports on that address.
"They have the ration card, voter identity cards. Passport is also with them (some family members). You (authorities) cannot remove somebody whom you have issued the passport on that address. They have the identity cards issued by you," Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said.
The Court further asked "where is the question of somebody putting up an illegal structure?"
"The jhuggi you have demolished seems to be there for last many years. The house is painted which means that people were living there for long. How can your officer come and demolish the place where people live," the Court said.
"Where is the question that the family members were illegal occupants. It means you have allowed them to stay there," it said while raising serious concern on the security of the Presidential Estate and areas adjacent to it.
While restraining the authorities from removing petitioner Ram Sewak and his family from the site till December 16, the next date of hearing, the court asked why action should not initiated against the officers for allowing the family to enter and live there for four decades.
"Since the President was to visit that area on December 11, you came and demolished the jhuggi and threw them out on the road," it said.
The court also asked the authorities to return the misplaced books to the children of the petitioner whose family has been displaced due to the demolition on December 3.
The man, through his advocate Kshitij Sharda, has alleged that the authorities concerned have demolished the 'jhuggi' without following due process of law. The lawyer, appearing for Centre, said that Ram Sewak was staying at S-170, G point, Kali Bari Marg in central Delhi which has been recently acquired by the Presidential Estate and is now part of Rashtrapati Bhavan, which has a spread of 330 acres.
The petitioner, however, disputed the claim and said they were living there for the past 40 years and the court should direct the authorities to rehabilitate his family members.
The family is currently staying in a temporary structure built near the demolished jhuggi in the winters, the counsel said.
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