Respite for slum dwellers as Centre says no coercive steps. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Nov 24 : The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that no coercive steps will be taken against the slum dwellers, until a decision is taken by the government on the issue of removal of 48,000 slums along the railway tracks in Delhi.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde that the government is still deliberating on the issue and assured that until a decision is taken, there will be no coercive steps.

After a brief hearing in the matter, the bench, which also comprised Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, adjourned the matter for four weeks after taking on record the Centre's submissions.

During a brief hearing, the Chief Justice inquired as to the number of residents in these slums along the railway tracks, and senior advocate Collin Gonsalves responded that it runs into lakhs.

On September 14, Mehta had informed the top court that for the time being, there will be no removal of 48,000 slums along the railway tracks in Delhi.

Image Source: IANS News

Mehta had submitted that the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and the Delhi government are going to take a decision on the issue raised in the instant interlocutory applications and "till then they will not take any coercive action against the slum dwellers".

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for senior Congress leader Ajay Maken, had submitted before the bench that the court should order a status quo. To this the bench said that it will not, as the Centre has already stated that there will be status quo till a decision is taken.

He argued that demolitions have taken place on Friday and Monday, therefore the instructions need to be given to stop it.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid had submitted before the bench that he appeared on behalf of the applicants who are directly affected as they are 'jhuggi' dwellers. Khurshid emphasised that they need to be heard and urged the court to make them a party in the case.

Delhi government counsel had contended before the court that the government will fully co-operate in regard to the laws and rules in place for rehabilitation.

The top court, in its order, said: "Stand over for four weeks. Put up along with the interlocutory application(s) for impleadment as prayed for by Salman Khurshid, senior counsel assisted by Lubna Naaz, Advocate-on-Record for the applicant(s)." Maken had moved the Supreme Court challenging its order to remove nearly 48,000 jhuggis along the railway tracks in Delhi. On August 31, the Supreme Court had ordered removal of these slum dwellings within three months and said that no political interference will be entertained in the matter.

Maken, in an intervention application, said the agencies - Ministry of Railways, Delhi government etc, - have already initiated the process identification and removal of jhuggis and have issued demolition notices in various slums in Delhi.

"Further, while doing so they have circumvented the established procedure by law with respect to rehabilitation of the slum dwellers prior to eviction/demolition of their jhuggis and ignorance of the procedure enshrined in the Delhi Slum & JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015 and the Protocol (for removal of jhuggis)," said the application.

-- Syndicated from IANS

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