Delhi HC rebukes DDA counsel, appoints court commissioners to oversee Kathputli colony demolition, rehabilitaton

In the demolition drive of Delhi’s Kathputli Colony by the DDA, the Delhi high court rebuked the DDA’s counsel and appointed a 3-member committee to ascertain the position on the ground. The Delhi HC had on October 31 stayed the demolition drive for 10 days, so persons being relocated could move out voluntarily, and those declared ineligible for relocation could get time to file appeals against the action. On November 1, the DDA filed an application seeking modification of this order, asking to be allowed to remove rubble from the area and demolish locked houses, claiming that people from the outside could move into them and would then seek rehabilitation. The court said this could be done from November 4. But Choudhary Ali Zia Kabir, HRLN advocate and counsel for the petitioners today reminded the court the DDA had not followed its previous orders and had gone ahead with indiscriminate demolition in the entire area, despite the protection given by this court on November 1. In response, the court directed the NGOs working for slum dwellers ascertain the ground realities in Kathputli Colony today onwards, and to share them with the Director (Housing-III) of the DDA, VK Chopra. The entire exercise should also be recorded on video, the court directed, fixing the next date for hearing on November 16, 2017. Explaining the petitioners’ stance, advocate Kabir said, “It is not that we are against redevelopment, but we are against the haphazard process being followed by the DDA. Residents are not aware even to this day whether they’re being relocated or not. Several residents have their names on multiple lists, while others don’t appear in any lists. Some were eligible in 2014 but now ineligible. There is total confusion. The very fact that the DDA gave only a five-day notice [to the slum dwellers] and the war-scale demolition speaks volumes about the opaque manner in which they conduct themselves.”