HC issues notices to Gujarat Govt on slum dwellers petition

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Ahmedabad, Nov 19 (UNI) A division bench of the Gujarat High Court today issued notices to the Gujarat government and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in response to a writ petition filed by slum dwellers of Meghaninagar here who have challenged the civic body's demand of Rs one lakh from each of them in order to provide alternative accomodation.

Chief Justice Y R Meena and Justice Abhilasha Kumari, in response to a writ petition filed by one Yogeshwar Yuvak Mandal of Meghaninagar, challenging the demand of Rs one lakh made by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) towards the cost of land for providing alternative accommodation to the slum dwellers, issued notices which are returnable on December 17 to the Secretary of the Urban Housing and Urban Development Department and the Municipal Commissioner.

Around 56 hutment dwellers are residing for the past 35 years on the land bearing Revenue Survey No 203 of Meghaninagar. During 1981, the AMC had issued eviction notices to the slum dwellers failing which their hutments were to be demolished.

When the hutment dwellers challenged the notice before the High Court, the Corporation agreed to provide alternative land. However, no land was allotted to them by the Corporation. Therefore, they approached the High Court again and this time the Corporation filed an affidavit stating that it would provide alternative land to slum dwellers on production of sufficient documentary evidence in support of their occupation of the land.

As per the High Court directive of 2006, the hutment dwellers submited all documentary evidence. After submission of the documents, the Corporation agreed to allot a piece of land to each hutment dweller and demanded Rs one lakh towards the cost of the land from each of them.

Challenging the aforesaid demand of the Corporation from the slum dwellers, advocates Mukul Sinha and S H Iyer contended before the Court that the demand made by the Corporation was not only absolutely ''illegal, unjust and unconstitutional'' but also contrary to the Corporation's own policy.

They argued that the Constitution and the Supreme Court by various judgements upheld the right of residence as a fundamental right available even to the poor, backward, and weaker sections of society and held that it was the duty of the state to provide adequate residence to the poor.

The advocates further submitted that the commercial price of the very same piece of land according to the Government records was Rs 1100 per sq mtr, whereas the Corporation was demanding Rs 100,000 from the hutment dweller. Hence, under no circumstances the demand made by the Corporation was justified.


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