“Roof Over Head Basic Right”: SC On Demolition Of Encroachments


The Supreme Court has recently stated that having a shelter is a basic right of an individual and that unauthorized colonies are bound to come up if there is a gap in government policies in providing the affordable housing.

The court’s remark during the hearing of pleas challenging the order of the Allahabad High Court dismissing petitions against orders for demolishing 24 alleged illegal establishments in Lucknow’s Akbar Nagar.

The apex court have stalled the demolition of one of these 24 establishments till March 4.

Furthermore, the court also asked the state government if some monetary benefit is also needed to be given to those whose establishments are being demolished.

Justice Khanna stated, “There is a failing on the part of the government as well. A roof over your head, a shelter is a basic right. Land in all occasions is virtually with government, since land is substantially with government price is also high. We have to accept that fact.”

The court noted that it’s not the case of the petitioners that they are in occupation of land owned by them, and their constructions would be unauthorized/illegal.

The court permitted the petitioner to remove all his belongings on or before midnight of March 4.

The court stated that the petitioner would be entitled to move an application in terms of scheme of Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) for alternative accommodation.

Thereafter, the authority would be entitled to demolish the property.

The court has also directed pre & post demolition photographs to be taken and list of belongings be made.

The court was told by ASG that at present, only 24 commercial establishments are being subjected to demolition, and 23 out of the 24 properties have already been demolished.

It is the development authority’s case that persons in occupation running these establishments don’t belong to EWS category.

It is stated that Lucknow Development Authority has, in terms of policy, made available alternative accommodation to these persons also, for which they have to complete formalities.

With regard to residential establishments on government land, the court recorded ASG’s statement that matter related to demolition of residential houses constructed on government lands on riverfront is sub judice before high court and judgment is reserved.

The court directed that till judgment is pronounced, Lucknow Development Authority or state government will not carry out demolitions and will abide by the order of High Court.

During the hearing, the court also spoke about housing difficulties being faced by those belonging to economically weaker sections (EWS), stating that they haven’t been provided for.

The court remarked that there is a huge gap in the policies between the requirements and what is done at the ground-level, adding that unauthorized colonies are bound to come up.

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About the Author: Meera Verma