The top court, while observing that it will hold “somebody responsible” for the situation which led to mushrooming of the area into slums or rather unauthorised constructions, suggested to the counsel appearing for the civic body that the corporation may examine if, after basic scrutiny of application filed by those seeking rehabilitation, provisional allotment can be made with a week.
A bench comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari made it clear that provisional allotment can be done subject to an undertaking that if the person fails to satisfy the genuineness of documents or his claims regarding eligibility, then he will vacate the premises on his own failing which he will be removed by the police.
“If the application is received today with minimum documents which are good enough to process the file, verification of documents may take six weeks, no difficulty but provisional allotment can be made to that person so that he need not wait for eight weeks till you finally take a decision,” the bench said.
The bench said this after the corporation’s counsel said they are likely to finalise the list of eligible persons soon and then start making allotment.
When the bench asked his about the time taken in the process after receiving application, he said it can take eight weeks.
“There is a suggestion for you. Preliminary scrutiny on receipt of application can be done within a week and provisional allotment can be made if the person is found to be eligible, subject to verification of documents. After verification, if you find that the document is forged or manipulated, then that person will have to vacate immediately up on the decision being taken,” the bench observed.
The counsel said he would get back to the court on this aspect.
During the arguments, senior advocates Colin Gonsalves and Sanjay Parikh, appearing for some of the petitioners including those who are residents of the village, pointed out towards difficulties faced by people there and claimed that adequate basic facilities were not being provided to them, including those who are in temporary accommodation.
The corporation’s counsel referred to the affidavit filed by the civic body containing details about the nature of temporary arrangement made in respect of persons affected due to demolition of unauthorised structures standing on forest land.
While refuting the claims, he said temporary accommodation and food, water and other basic amenities are being provided there.
“Instead of going into this debate and disputed questions, we called upon the counsel for the corporation to indicate the time line required for rehabilitating the eligible persons after due scrutiny and finding them to be eligible for such rehabilitation,” the bench said in its order and posted the matter for further hearing on September 13.
The bench noted that the corporation’s counsel will take instructions and present a comprehensive scheme and time line in that regard before it.
At the outset, Gonsalves referred to a report prepared by social workers and some lawyers who had visited the area and interviewed the people there and told the bench that there is urgent need of temporary accommodation, food, health facilities, drinking water and electricity there as the claims of the authorities about temporary accomodation are “absolutely false”.
He said people are there on the debris as they have nowhere to go and are waiting for rehabilitation.
“Debris there are of demolished houses. Those houses were demolished because they were unauthorised. Persons can’t stand on the debris and say we will not move from there,” the bench observed.
Gonsalves told the bench that he fully understands what the bench was saying but suffering of people must be understood.
The bench said rehabilitation will be only for those who are eligible.
The bench said it has to be found who are eligible for rehabilitation and the it has to allow the administration to do things in a structured manner.
During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, when Parikh asked whether he was audible, the bench said, “Yes. Your colleague said we are not hearing you. Now, therefore we stopped speaking. Now, you say are you audible to test our voice”.
“You cannot say that you hear us. We have been doing this for last so many dates. We are also conscious of humanity. It is not the forte of only few,” the bench observed.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Haryana, told the bench that identification of forest and non-forest area is in progress and may take some more time considering the expanse of area.
“For the time being, we give two weeks to the forest department to do the needful. We say so because the forest area is already known area and notified long back, it should not take time to identify such area,” the bench said.
On June 7, the top court had directed Haryana and Faridabad municipal corporation to remove “all encroachments”, consisting around 10,000 residential constructions, in Aravali forest area near the village, saying “land grabbers cannot take refuge of rule of law” and talk of “fairness”.