Victory for Mahul residents: SC disposes of BMC’s petition, directs payment of rent

SC sees no grounds in issuing further clarifications as previous order clear

In a significant victory for Mahul residents in Mumbai, the Supreme Court on Monday disposed of Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging the Bombay High Court’s order directing payment of rent to those displaced.
The HC order had directed the Maharashtra government to pay Rs. 15000 rent to Mahul residents so as to enable them to move out of Mahul. The toxic environment in Mahul has been declared unfit for human habitation by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2015 and in April, 2019 by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
In April 2019, the Bombay HC said that those unwilling to stay at the Mahul SRA rehabilitation colony shall be compensated as follows: they shall be paid Rs. 15,000 per month for twelve months along with a one-time payment of Rs. 45,000, these amounts intended to cover the cost of rent and security deposit respectively. The HC had directed the Corporation to transfer the entire amount at one go to the families that would be evicted and had asked the state government to conduct a survey to find out which families want to leave the Mahul SRA. However, according to activists, the BMC and state government didn’t attempt to begin the court ordered survey for compensation, and instead, moved the SC for a stay on the operation of the High Court order.
Slum dwellers filed an intervention petition in May in the very SLP that challenged the HC order in SC. According to media reports, the Corporation was forcing these slum dwellers to go back to Mahul. On hearing the matter, the SC directed the slum dwellers to vacate their houses, “It is directed that before demolishing the slums units of the petitioners, they must be intimated of the alternative accommodation offered under the Scheme. After such intimation, the concerned persons may occupy the units offered. However, if they do not accept the offer, it will be open for the Corporation to demolish the existing huts. If it is found that any of these persons is not eligible to get the alternative accommodation as per the Scheme, the appropriate authority will communicate the same to such persons, and it will be open for such an aggrieved person to approach the Deputy Commissioner (Zone-II) by way of an appeal, as mentioned in the Public Notice, and follow the necessary procedure as mentioned in the Notice.”
The SC disposed of Corporation’s SLP on Monday, for a second time, when the Corporation approached SC to restore their petition. SC made it clear that there were no grounds to give any clarification for the second time. It said, “No further clarification in order is required as the order is clear. In terms of the directions issued in the order, thepetitions have been disposed of.”
Reacting to this, the people’s organisation on Housing rights, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao (GBGB), engaged in the Mahul struggle since long said, “As of today, the order of the Mumbai High Court stands unchallenged. Now the government cannot force anyone to go to Mahul. It is the victory of the perseverant struggle led by the residents of Mahul who continue to sit of dharna till today since October 2018. The struggle will continue until everyone living in Mahul gets safe and clean housing.”



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