By Shruti Kakkar and Srishti Ojha
The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned for two weeks pleas filed in relation to the demolition of 10,000 houses that have been planned by the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad at Khori Gaon in Faridabad, Haryana.
A Division Bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari while allowing an adjournment for 2 weeks has asked the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad to complete the removal of unauthorised constructions on forest land byl then. The Bench was informed by Advocate Arun Bhardwaj, AAG for State of Haryana that the farmhouses on the forest land have already been demolished.
The adjournment was granted today after a request seeking the same was made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the State of Haryana and State’s Forest Department.
On 6th August, SG Mehta had informed the Court that the State and its Forest Department is in process of considering the representation made by wedding hall owners who have received notices for demolition of their land arguing that their land down is not in the forest area. The Government is considering if their lands fall within or outside the forest land.
After these landowners approached the top court arguing that their land is not in the forest area and they are not encroachers, the Bench had asked the applicants to make representation before competent authorities who have issued notice for removal of alleged unauthorised structures and asked the authorities to consider it accordingly.
In the first week of August, the Apex Court had asked the State of Haryana to expedite the consideration of the draft policy of rehabilitation submitted by the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad with respect to the demolitions carried out in the Khori Gaon forest land, and take a final decision preferably before August 25th.
The Court had also asked the Commissioner to briefly indicate the outcome of representations regarding rehabilitation that would be made by Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for one of the petitioners before the Commissioner.
Supreme Court had also asked the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation to consider setting up of an extended office at Radha Saomi complex where the locals have been provided temporary food, shelter and accommodation, to assuage the grievance of the locals and enable them to avail facilities made available in terms of the Court’s order.
Supreme Court had on July 23rd granted four more weeks to the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad to complete the removal of unauthorised constructions on forest land in Khori Gaon in Faridabad, Haryana.
On 7th June 2021, the Supreme Court had directed the removal of all encroachments on forest land within 6 weeks in a plea seeking a stay on the demolition of 10,000 houses that has been planned by the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad at Khori Gaon in Faridabad, Haryana.
A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar had heard the plea which has been filed by 10,000 families living in the Khori Gaon who had challenged the Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran Rehabilitation Policy to the extent that it limited the cut-off for rehabilitation to 2003, and directed for a report of compliance under the signature of the Chief Secretary and Secretary of Haryana Forest Department to be provided.
“After the certificates are provided, we will determine our own factual position. We make it clear that MCF will proceed as stated in February 2020 order and State will give necessary logistical support to enable corporation to fully evict the occupants on forest land and clear the encroachments”, directed the Court.
The Supreme Court had further directed the DCP of Faridabad to provide police protection to the corporation officials. It did, however, noted that the relief claimed by the Petitioners could be considered dehors the compliance given in the earlier February 2020 order.
The Court also noted that,
“We make it clear that if the certificate does not portray it truthfully that the forest land has been cleared, there will be contempt action. We have asked the Secretary of Forest Department to reply now. Next, the Chief Secretary of Haryana will be responsible for this”.