Supreme Court Directs Faridabad Municipal Corporation To Disclose Unauthorised Structures On Forest Land Not Yet Demolished

By Srishti Ojha

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The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Faridabad Municipal Corporation to submit a chart disclosing the unauthorised structures standing on Khori Gaon forest land which have not been demolished as part of the demolition of unauthorised structures that have been planned by the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad at Khori Gaon in Faridabad, Haryana.

A Bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari has asked the Commissioner to submit an area wise chart with justification of non-demolition of such unauthorised structure by next date of hearing on October 22nd.

In addition, the Bench has also asked the Corporation to indicate steps taken to remove the mass of demolished structures and debris or process the same to make them environment friendly and compliant.

The Bench was hearing a batch of 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.

Provisional Allotment Letters Issued By Corporation:

The Bench recorded the submissions made by Additional Advocate General Arun Bhardwaj appearing for Municipal Corporation of Faridabad that in in terms of court’s previous order dated 14th September asking the Corporation to roll out a provisional scheme for rehabilitation of residents, the Corporation has already initiated the exercise of issuing provisional allotment letters.

The Bench was informed that the Corporation has already initiated exercise of issuing provisional allotment letters to prima facie eligible applicants. Further, out of the 2391 applications received until 15th September, after processing the applications, 892 were found to be prima facie eligible.

The Court was informed that the Officials of the Corporation have contacted the concerned persons, out of whom 302 persons reported to the office to collect provisional allotment letter.

The Bench observed that since the modalities suggested in the top Court’s order dated 14th September are being rolled out by the Corporation in right earnest, for the time being the Court will neither make any further observation nor finally determine the issue.

New Timeline For Rehabilitation:

The Bench was further informed that the dates in the tentative timeline for the rehabilitation have also been realigned.

On last occasion, the Corporation had told the Court that it will make all efforts to complete the process of rehabilitation in relation to the Khori Gaon demolitions by 30th April 2022, including handing over the possession of the flats to eligible applicants. The Court had then expressed its disapproval towards the rehabilitation being delayed till next year, and reiterated that those eligible should be provided Accommodation and provisional allotment should be made.

AAG Bhardwaj therefore informed the court today that the last date of application is now fixed as 15th November 2021, following which the applications will be processed and draw of lots will be done on 2nd December and in all probability the final allotment letters will be issued to eligible applicants before 15th December 2021.

The Bench has therefore asked the Corporation to state its position with regards the new timeline on affidavit.

Mr Bhardwaj has also submitted before the Court on instructions that after provisional allotment letter is issued to the eligible applicant and the concerned person occupies the premises so allotted, if any defects or maintenance issue is pointed out, that will be attended to with utmost urgency.

Eligibility Criteria Under The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana:

The Bench has asked AAG appearing for the Corporation to get instructions on whether the applicants will be permitted to establish their identities as residents of the demolished premises according to the eligibility criteria in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and not keep the eligibility criteria limited to one under the rehabilitation scheme.

The observation was made by the Court after Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh appearing for one of the petitioners submitted that the rehabilitation policy is based on Pradhan Mantri Yojna Housing for All, but the eligibility criteria in rehabilitation scheme is different from that in the Prime Minister’s scheme.

The Bench recorded that “The Counsel for petitioners submitted that an immediate order is essential before verification process is taken forward. According to the petitioners in addition to the documents referred to in defining eligibility criteria, the person concerned/applicant may be permitted to establish his identity and the fact that he was resident of the premises demolished being unauthorised structure standing on forest land by way of giving self certificate/affidavit as proof of income & other documents referred to as proof of address in Pradhan Mantri awas yojna scheme 2015 and not limited to voter list, pehchan patra and electricity connection. Mr Bhardwaj seeks time to get instructions. List these matters next monday.”

The Supreme Court had on 6th September granted time to the Municipal Corporation to present a comprehensive rehabilitation scheme and examine and respond to certain suggestions made by the Court regarding provisional allotment of accommodation to the residents.

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.

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.

Case Title: Municipal Corporation Faridabad v. Khori Gaon Residents Welfare Association (Regd.) Through Its President & Ors | SLP(c) No.7220-7221/2017