Mumbai: Granting immediate relief to inhabitants of a slum located near the Sewri Fort, the Bombay High Court suspended Mumbai Port Trust’s (MbPT) bye-law 9 which requires that only 12 hours notice be given before a demolition order is implemented. The MbPT had served eviction notices to 48 slum inhabitants. Interestingly, the notice was dated October 30 but was received by the dwellers on November 2.
Moreover, a division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata diluted the provision, stating that in case, MbPT passes an order of removal of any structure under the bye law, the same will not be implemented for a week from the date when the order is communicated to the persons concerned.
HC takes up matter for hearing due to its seriousness
Averring that they were “sought to be removed without following principles of natural justice”, the slum inhabitants took legal recourse against the notice. Considering the seriousness of the matter, the HC took up the issue even before the petition was filed with the registry. Advocates Prerak Choudhary and Tushar Awasthi, who represent the slum inhabitants, conveyed the concerns to the court. Asserting that they have been living at the place for the last 30-40 years, the aggrieved further said they would be rendered homeless if they are not given an opportunity to be heard.
Slum Rehabilitation Authority Survey
They also pointed out that a survey was conducted by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, which recognised the dwellings as “censused slums”. (Censused shall mean those slums located on lands belonging to government, any undertaking of government, or Corporation and incorporated in the records of the land-owning authority as having been censused prior to 1st January, 1995, and 1st Jan 2000).
While suspending the order on November 2, the HC said that it's necessary to give a fair opportunity to the 48 relief-seekers and not leave them at the “mercy” of some MbPT officers.
“This is as much in the interests of courts of equity so the parties who are affected have a fair opportunity of approaching a court,” the bench underlined. It had also granted liberty to the slum inhabitants to file the petition by November 3.