"No coercive steps will be taken in demolition of Jhuggis in Sarojini Nagar till next date of hearing": ASG Natraj informs Supreme Court

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The Additional Solicitor General of India KM Natraj today informed the Supreme Court that no coercive steps will be taken with respect to the demolition of Jhuggis in Delhi's Sarojini Nagar till the next date of hearing of the matter. The Supreme Court was hearing a plea challenging the demolition of Jhuggis at Sarojini Nagar.

Court, on hearing the ASG’s submissions, recorded the same and adjourned the case to Monday (May 2, 2022) for further hearing. 

When the matter came up for hearing, Vikas Singh, Sr. Adv, appearing for the petitioner, argued that the people living in the jhuggis cannot be banished and that some scheme has to be provided to rehabilitate them. He further argued that board exams are starting soon and that two petitioners before the court are sitting for the board exams.

The counsel for the Delhi government also submitted that these slum dwellers must be protected as they are covered under the Jhuggi protection scheme.

ASG Natraj, appearing for the Union of India, submitted that his office has been served with the relevant documents today and he requires time to reply. He further argued that persons cannot claim rights merely by having documents for elections.

Justice KM Joseph, at this point, remarked, “Look at your notice,  the impugned notice says that 'hand it over as it is government of India land'. These poor people occupy the land out of necessity. As a modern government you cannot say that you will not do anything else.” Justice Joseph, therefore, asked the government to deal with the issue humanely.

Supreme Court on Friday had refused to allow the status quo in the plea against the demolition of Jhuggi's in the Sarojini Nagar area. The bench had agreed to list the case today.

The plea challenges the Delhi High Court order, refusing to grant rehabilitation to the jhuggi dwellers of the Sarojini Nagar area. The petitioners had filed a plea seeking quashing of the demolition notice stating that the cluster which forms the subject matter of the present petition, houses more than 200 families who have been staying there for decades.

Case title: Vaishali & Ors vs Union of India & Ors