While acknowledging the scheme as laudable for giving house sites to 25 lakh families, the court observed it cannot infringe the personal right of any citizen. One Podili Siva Murali and 128 others had moved the high court after they were denied allotment of house sites under the scheme.
After a lengthy hearing, Justice M Satyanrayana Murthy set aside certain guidelines issued through various GOs. The allotment of house sites only to women is discriminatory, Justice Murthy observed, adding that there can be widowed men raising children languishing in poverty and poor transgenders, who cannot be deprived of their right to shelter.
The court also found fault with guidelines on issuance of conveyance deeds instead of D-form pattas. The government allotted house sites for a nominal Rs 1 and issued deeds with a lock-in period of five years after which, as per the guidelines, the beneficiaries can sell the house site. Noting that this provision will defeat the very purpose of the scheme, the HC directed the government to issue assigned D-form pattas which gives right to hereditary only but not to alienate the property.
While observing that there are no laws to recognise the right to adequate housing in India, Justice Murthy said there should be an assessment of the health impacts and growth prospects of children in the houses to be constructed on an extent of one cent land. He directed the government to form an expert committee to study the same and also suggested to enhance the extent of land based on the recommendations of the expert committee. On the question of environmental impacts if group houses are constructed in small areas, the court observed there should be an impact assessment on various factors.
The court further asked the government to conduct the study by forming expert committees and also publish the committees’ reports to take public opinion and objections, if any, on the recommendations. The expert committee should consist of members from Central Pollution Control Board, ministry of housing and urban affairs, and ministry of health and family welfare, the court said, while directing the government not to proceed with the construction of houses till the impact assessment study is completed.