"Has To Be Addressed In A More Considered Fashion Than By Merely Deploying Bulldozers": Bombay HC On Encroachment Issue
The Bombay High Court has observed that merely labelling persons as “encroachers” is not going to answer the problem of encroachment.
The Court added that it has to be addressed in a more considered fashion than by merely deploying bulldozers on the site.
“Throughout, we bear in mind that merely labelling these persons as “encroachers” is not going to answer the problem. This is a serious problem in the city and it is a problem of human displacement. Sometimes, the scale of the displacement is beyond the imagination. It has to be addressed in a more considered fashion than by merely deploying bulldozers on the site.”, Justice G.S. Patel and Justice Neela Gokhale observed.
The Court was dealing with the plea filed by Ekta Welfare Society challenging the demolition notice issued by the railways authority.
Advocate AA Siddiquie appeared for the Petitioner. AGP LT Satelkar appeared for Respondent-State and Advocate AR Gole appeared for railways.
The Court noted that the demolition notice doesn’t point out any rehabilitation scheme or any requirements of eligibility.
“Notices have been issued for demolition but these do not point out any rehabilitation scheme nor any requirements of eligibility or how these are to be met or within what time. These are not even notices under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971. They are simply eviction notices.”, the Court observed.
The Court further added, “It is even now unclear, whether Western Railways has taken up the matter of rehabilitation with Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Respondent No. 7 to this Petition.”
The Court directed the Advocate for the Petitioner to send a copy of the Petition and this order to Kiran Bagalia who routinely appears for MMRDA and request her to take instructions.
The Court also sought information as to, whether Western Railways, MMRDA and MCGM have in place any rehabilitation policy or system, and about the eligibility criteria.
The Court further noted that “A copy of this joint demolition report is scanned and annexed to this order. The report does not indicate whether any survey was done of the 101 unauthorized structures. It does not indicate whether any process of eligibility was undertaken.”
The Court ordered that no further demolitions shall be carried out until the next date in contravention of the Supreme Court order on Western Railway lands in Greater Mumbai.
“List the matter on 1st March 2023.”, the Court held.
Cause Title- Ekta Welfare Society v. State of Maharashtra & Ors