The Supreme Court has stayed the order of the Uttarakhand High Court for the removal of the alleged unauthorised occupants from the Railway land, adjoining Haldwani Railway Station, known as Gafoor Basti. The Court also clarified that it has not stayed the proceedings under the Public Premises Eviction Of Unauthorised Occupants Act, 1971, but only directions of the High Court. The Court also said that there should be no further construction on the disputed land.

The Bench comprising Justice SK Kaul and Justice Abhay S Oka said that the stand of the state government will also have to be considered. "Apart from that, there are issues of the occupants claiming rights in the land as lessees and auction purchasers", the Court said. There cannot be an uprooting of fifty thousand people in seven days, Justice Kaul said.

The Bench issued notice to the Railways and the State. "There shall be a stay of the directions passed in the impugned order. Some solution should be found out", the Court said.

The Court started by asking if the demarcation of the land between the Railways and the State has been done.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati for the Railways replied that the land has been bifurcated. She submitted that appeals were filed in some eviction proceedings but there is no stay.

"Some claim lease and some say the auction of the land of people who migrated in 1947 has happened. Some rehabilitation scheme has to be provided to those who have been staying for long", the Bench said. "How can they be evicted in seven days with paramilitary? How do you deal with a scenario where people may have purchased in an auction? People who have acquired title, how do you deal with them?", the Court asked.

"You may acquire the land, there is no problem with that. Even if it is the land of the Railway, some rehabilitation should have been provided. Some may have no rights at all. There is a human angle to it. You will have to work out something", the Court said.

"Everybody has to be heard, there has to be some mechanism", Justice Oka said.

"We have to find a practical way. There are multiple angles arising from the nature of the land and ownership of the land", the Court said.

"We are not coming in the way of any rehabilitation", the ASG said.

"They have never asked for rehabilitation, they have been saying it is their land. It is not overnight, we have followed a procedure", the ASG said.

The ASG also said that the State and the Railways are on the same page on the issue.

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves submitted that as per the impugned order, the proceedings under the Public Premises Act are not valid. He submitted that as per the state, the land belongs to the State government.

Senior Advocates Salman Khurshid and Sidharth Luthra and Advocate Prashant Bhushan also appeared for the petitioners.

The High Court had directed demolition or removal of the unauthorized structures raised by the encroachers on the Railway's land. It said that the Railway Authority will take possession of the property of the Railways.

The petitioner contended before the Supreme Court that it is excessive and harsh for the High Court to call for the use of “paramilitary forces” to evict the inhabitants en masse “by use of force to any extent” and to also use “full police force” even after realizing that the majority of the residents were poor and working-class people. The area sought to be demolished has a large number of public and private schools, colleges, dispensaries, bank, 21 Anganwadi centers and the like structures, as per the petitioner.

The petitioner has said that it is not clear whether the land in question indeed belongs to the railways. The counter affidavit filed before the High Court, at the behest of the State Government, contained an assertion that the land in question is indeed revenue land.

Earlier, a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice P S Narasimha posted the matter for hearing today after Advocate Prashant Bhushan mentioned the matter.

Cause Title- Abdul Mateen Siddiqui v. Union of India & Ors.