Supreme Court Issues Notice On Plea Seeking Constitution Of Committee To Monitor Shelter Facilities Given To Evictees

By Shruti Kakkar

This article was published on website. Read it here.

According to the petition, the facilities in the temporary shelter provided at the Radha Swami Satsang are woefully inadequate.

The Supreme Court today directed the State of Haryana and Faridabad Municipal Corporation to file its response in a plea seeking directions to appoint a Monitoring Committee to look into the manner in which temporary shelter and other facilities are being provided to the residents of Khori Gaon and present its conclusions before this Hon’ble Court.

The matter was listed before the division bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari.

Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh in the plea which also seeks for directions for setting up a Monitoring Committee to be headed by a retired High Court judge and have at least one expert on the issue of rehabilitation and displacement, one expert on the issue of health and nutrition, and at least one woman member submitted that:

“Kindly see the report that has been filed. In this application, whatever representation was made by the State is completely false. The visit was made by Ms Manju Menon and Advocate Srishti.”

Upon Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh’s submission, Justice Khanwilkar said, Let us atleast hear the respondents & give them time to respond. You may be right but we’ll decide after giving due consideration to the respondent.”

Requesting for the Top Court to make provisions for rehabilitation and shelter process to be subject to monitoring by an independent committee appointed by the Court, it has been argued that the residents continue to live in extreme poverty and without a roof over their heads, while they and their families have been reduced to a bare animal existence.

Filed through Advocate on Record Srishti Agnihotri the plea states that,

“The facilities in the temporary shelter provided at the Radha Swami Satsang are woefully inadequate. It is submitted that the temporary shelter facility is a shed which is completely exposed to the elements, with a mud floor, and no partition for privacy for women and lactating mothers. It further has no space for families to carry and store their belongings, which were left in the open after their homes were demolished. These are belongings that the Petitioners and their families have bought after years of saving every rupee.

Most displaced persons for Khori Gaon have requested that if a temporary shelter facility is given to them, it should have the bare minimum requirements, that is, it should protect them from the elements such as the rain, sun and heat, and that it should have some provision to protect the privacy of women who simply cannot spread a mat on the floor and sleep in view of the public.”

Petitioners have also averred that despite Top Court’s direction and undertaking by the representatives of the Respondents, the Petitioners and other similarly situated persons of Khori have been living in deplorable conditions since the beginning of the demolition, and the actions of the Respondents herein are in violation of every established procedure of law and natural justice.

Owing to the inadequate facilities being provided at the Radha Soami Satsang, and the lack of proper transit accommodation, what is being provided at the moment is a camp-like single community shelter, women and children are forced to live in the open and are therefore being pushed into homelessness. Additionally, despite assurances, there have been allegations of violence and abuse even against women, carried out by the male police personnel during the eviction and demolition process. The basic essential needs of the Petitioners, and other similarly situated persons, are being outrightly ignored, and the Petitioners are being denied their right to life and dignity on a daily basis, by the Respondents herein. For every day that the Petitioners and similarly situated persons continue to live in these deplorable conditions, they face the risk of exposure to diseases, deteriorating health, and other violations of their socio-economic rights. Further, hundreds of children, who are the future, face the risk of dropping out of school and losing their education owing to the lack of provision of any humane space by the Respondents to the Petitioners and similarly situated persons,” plea further states.

The petitioners have also argued that the residents of Khori Gaon have also faced difficulties while searching for houses on rent and the landlords are reluctant to rent larger families or those families who have a lot of household items and the residents who are from minority communities are facing an additional difficulty.

Case Title: Rekha And Ors v. Union Of India And Ors.