Kathputli Colony razed and forced the residents to leave Kathputli Colony
Centre for Holistic-CHD & Anr v. Delhi Development Authority & Ors, WP(C) No. 9663 of 2017 | Delhi High Court | Status: Disposed off | |
Kathputli Colony started in 1950s, as a cluster of makeshift tents in an open field on what was then outskirts of Delhi set up by itinerant puppeteers from Rajasthan, which gave the colony its name. In the coming decades puppeteers, street performers, magicians, snake charmers, acrobats, singers, dancers, actors, traditional healers, artists and such others moved in from different parts of India. Overtime, the colony became the world’s largest community of street performers and artists, and its residents routinely performed at prestigious cultural events across the world. By 2017, Kathputli colony comprised of over 4000 families and was spread over an area of 5.2 hectare.
In 2010, DDA initiated the redevelopment of the colony on PPP basis. The contract was granted to M/s Raheja Developers to build 2800 flats for the residents in lieu of a part of the land where it would construct and sell private commercial and residential buildings of its own.
Such unilateral actions of a government agency, such as DDA, attempting rehabilitation as per its own design without consultation with the DUSIB is pending adjudication of this Hon Court in Ajay Maken & Ors v Union of India & Ors, WP(C)11616/2015. Way back on 22.12.2015 this Hon Court observed and directed asunder:
“15. One question that arises, in the context of the Explanation to Section 10(1) and the first and second provisos to Section 10 (3) of the DUSIB Act, is whether the JJ bastis on land belonging to the agencies of the Central Government would be governed by the DUSIB Act and whether such agencies are obliged to abide by its provisions as far as the conduct of a survey and preparing of a scheme for in-situ rehabilitation and improvement and/or resettlement is concerned… 17. Learned counsel for the MOUD has stated that he will file an affidavit before the next date of hearing placing on record the stand of the MoUD in the matter of recognition of entitlements of jhuggi dwellers to relief, in-situ rehabilitation or to resettlement in the event of removal. The affidavit should also state if there is any separate policy that is being followed in this regard as far as JJ Bastis on lands belonging to the Central Government or its agencies are concerned and if so, whether it is proposes to bring it in line with the DUSIB Act… Summary of directions… (G) MOUD will file an affidavit before the next date of hearing placing on record its stand in the matter of recognition of the entitlements of jhuggi dwellers to relief, in-situ upgradation/improvement or rehabilitation and resettlement in the event of removal. The affidavit should also state if there is any separate policy that is being followed in this regard as far as JJ Bastis on lands belonging to the Central Government or its agencies are concerned and if so, whether it proposes to bring it in line with the DUSIB Act.”
DDA’s actions have been criticized all along by the press, civil society and artist communities across the world as unlawful, corrupt and destructive of the unique character of the colony. HRLN petitioned on behalf of the residents , where DDA’s rehabilitation plan challenged also before this Hon Delhi High Court Court in WP(C) PIL 9663 of 2017 which prays:
a. Issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ directing the respondent DDA and other respondents to stay any further demolition of the slums opposite (at) Kathputli Colony till further orders from this Hon’ble Court;
b. Quash and set aside the eviction/demolition notice dated 25.10.2017issued by the Nodal Officer, Delhi Development Authority
c. Stay the demolition of any house and eviction of any person at the Kathputli Colony till the time all the objections with regard to the eligibility of slum dwellers for the rehabilitation is not finally decided and till the pendency of the present petition;
d. Pass an order directing the respondent DDA to take all the objections from the residents of the Jhuggis/Slums of Kathputli Colony and dispose of the same within two weeks’ time and till then no demolition action shall be undertaken;
e. Direct the respondent no.1, DDA, to produce the redevelopment, resettlement and rehabilitation plan for consideration of this Hon’ble Court;
f. Quash and set aside existing redevelopment, resettlement and rehabilitation plan of the Kathputli Colony as initiated by the DDA;
g. Quash and set aside the decision of the respondent no.1, DDA, and other respondents to appoint M/s Raheja Developers, Delhi as the agency to undertake the development of (Kathputli Colony)
h. Quash and set aside the agreement executed between the respondent no.1 (DDA) and Raheja Developers, Delhi dated 4th September 2009, Agreement No.40/EE/WDS/DDA /2009-10 for the same having been illegally and arbitrarily awarded to the Rahejas;
i. Direct the respondent no.1, DDA, to develop a new redevelopment, resettlement and rehabilitation plan in consultation with the residents of Kathputli Colony, where all residents are rehabilitated in situ; and
j. Pass an order setting aside the agreement executed between the respondent no.1 and Raheja Developers, Delhi and the DDA dated 4th September 2009 Agreement No.40/EE/WDS/DDA/2009-10 for the same having been lapsed and remaining unexecuted;
k. Pass any such directions or order which the Hon’ble Court deems fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the above-mentioned case.
DDA vehemently responded to opposition of the civil society, and stay orders from this Hon Court against demolition of the colony by arguing that all residents are being accommodated in its Transit Camp where they can stay until final determination of legal and social questions regarding its rehabilitation policy. And so, DDA continued carrying out forcible evictions and demolitions.
About 12 hearing involving extensive arguments have so far taken place in WP(C) PIL 9663 of 2017, and even though the issues involved affect more than 4000 families, from the last two hearings 20.3.2018 and 11.7.2018 DDA has failed to submit its written submissions. As the construction is already under way, DDA’s tactic seems to be to cause as much delay as possible and then plead fait accompli. Order dated 11.7.2018 in WP(C) PIL 9663 of 2017 reads:
By January 2018, DDA had razed the entire colony to the ground, and Raheja started full scale construction activity of the still under challenge Rehabilitation project. Most residents were either moved to Transit Camp set up by the DDA at Anand Parbat, Delhi 110005; or to the economically weaker section (EWS) housing at Narela, Delhi 110040; whilst a significant number are left homeless in pitiable conditions fending for themselves on streets, footpaths, various slums, and elsewhere in Delhi.
Then again, abandoning all pretence of its concern for the slum dwellers, DDA issued notice on 27.6.2018 stating that action will be taken against all those residing at the Transit Camp who have been declared ineligible for rehabilitation under its policy, which policy is being challenged in WP(C) PIL 9663 of 2017, unless they vacate within 2 days. WP(C) PIL 6728 of 2018 was preferred against this notice and on 30.6.2018 this Court granted ad interim stay against eviction.
What followed was a process where several hundred appeals were filed before the DDA Appellate Authority on behalf of slum dwellers declared ineligible for rehabilitation by the Eligibility Determination Committee of the DDA under the DDA policy. The rehabilitation policy supplied with this petition provides a cut-off date of 1.1.2011, but the same now stands revised to 1.1.2015.
During the pendency of the above petition and constant demands from the residents of Kathputli colony, forced the DDA to increase the number of flats from 2800 to 3300 and made additional arrangement of about 800 flats in Narela. DDA also relaxed the eligibility criteria for rehabilitation because of which residents residing on first floor of the jhuggi became eligible for rehabilitation. During the final argument in the above petition DDA submitted before the Hon Delhi High Court that two options have been given to the Kathputli residents either go to Narela residential flats or stay in redeveloped Kathputli Colony. The Hon Delhi High Court also gave liberty to the affected residents of Kathputli Colony to approach the Appellant Authority or Hon Court in an individual writ petition.
Apart from the above the petition, HRLN also petitioned individual writ petitions on behalf of the residents of Kathputli Colony, who have been declared ineligible for rehabilitation or facing eviction threat from the temporary shelter, which is situated in Transit Camp, Anand Parbat. These individual writ petitions are still subjudice before the Hon Delhi High Court.