Bombay HC Asks Housing Minister To Deal With Sensitivity On 26/11’s Youngest Survivor Plea For House

Bombay HC Asks Housing Minister To Deal With Sensitivity On 26/11’s Youngest Survivor Plea For House

The court noted that the Rotawan, 25, who identified the lone surviving terrorist Ajmad Kasab, herself was a victim of the terror attack, has been suffering since she was nine-years-old and has been living in poverty, at the mercy of her parents.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, February 29, 2024, 11:45 AM IST
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Bombay HC | PTI

Mumbai: Observing that the case needs to be looked at with “sensitivity” considering that it was an “exceptional and genuine case”, the Bombay High Court has asked the housing minister of the state government to consider request of Devika Rotawan, youngest survivor and an eye witness to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, for allotment of a house under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) scheme.

The court noted that the Rotawan, 25, who identified the lone surviving terrorist Ajmad Kasab, herself was a victim of the terror attack, has been suffering since she was nine-years-old and has been living in poverty, at the mercy of her parents.

The court passed the order after additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan informed the bench that the state housing department secretary has turned down Rotawan’s representation for allotting her a house under the EWS quota.

Bombay HC Raps Govt's Decision Of Not Alloting Rotawan House

Expressing displeasure, a division bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla came down heavily on the government and said that the decision was taken without application of mind.

This is the third round of litigation by Rotawan. She had first filed a similar plea in 2020, when the court asked the government to consider her plea and pass appropriate orders. She once again approached the HC in 2022, stating that the government had rejected her representation. At the time, the government said that it had granted a compensation of Rs13.26 lakh to her, on compassionate grounds. The HC, once again, asked the government to consider her representation for allotment of residential premises.

As the same was rejected, Rotawan approached the HC again.

“Whatever monetary compensation was given to her then was meagre in terms of the hardships she has faced and now there is nothing left with the petitioner (Rotawan) so as to enable her to have a roof over her head,” the bench remarked.

The judges have directed the housing department’s minister to apply his mind and take appropriate decision, on Rotawan’s representation within two weeks.

The judges remarked that they were aware that the department was inundated with several cases for allotment of tenements under the EWS scheme, but there would be such cases too where the authorities would be required to exercise their discretion appropriately.

“When a genuine case is presented before the dept, the same would certainly require more human sensitivity, and basic human rights, and more particularly being a victim of a terrorist attack,” the judges underlined.

The court expressed displeasure with the secretary taking decision mechanically, that too after a period of two years. “We are quite astonished at the snail’s pace at which the decision is taken that too in a matter which raises issues of basic human rights and the right to shelter of a victim of a terrorist attack,” the bench added.

Rotawan (then 9 years) was at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station along with her father and brother, when two of the ten Pakistani terrorists opened fire. She had suffered a bullet injury on her leg and her father and brother too sustained injuries. She had identified Ajmal Kasab before the special court.

The court has kept the petition for hearing after two weeks when the minister has to inform about his decision.

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