Supreme Court grants Faridabad Municipal Corporation 4 more weeks to clear encroachments at Khori Gaon

When it was pointed out that there were also farmhouses and other illegal structures in the area, the court asked the corporation to ensure that all unauthorised structures on forest land are removed.

The Supreme Court Friday gave the Faridabad Municipal Corporation four more weeks to complete the removal of encroachments in the Aravali forest region in Lakkadpur-Khori village area and directed it to finalise and notify the scheme for rehabilitating those evicted by July 31.

“In view of the humongous task involved, we accept the request and grant four weeks further time from today for taking necessary steps in terms of earlier order,” a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said.

On criticism of its order by “UN human rights experts”, the bench said they “should have read our previous orders (in the matter) and paperbooks”.

The court’s reference was to a July 16 statement by the “experts” who, while a calling for a halt to the evictions, said, “We find extremely worrying that India’s highest court, which has in the past led the protection of housing rights, is now leading evictions placing people at risk of internal displacement and even homelessness, as is the case in Khori Gaon”.

When it was pointed out that there were also farmhouses and other illegal structures in the area, the court asked the Corporation to ensure that all unauthorised structures on forest land are removed.

Emphasising that “land grabbers cannot take refuge of rule of law” and talk of “fairness”, the SC had on June 7 asked the corporation to remove the encroachments in six weeks.

On Friday, Haryana Additional Advocate General Senior Advocate Arun Bhardwaj told the bench that in keeping with its order, illegal structures on 74 out of a total of 150 acres had been removed and sought three more weeks to complete the process.

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for a resident said the rehabilitation is not happening. He pointed out that though there was a 2003 policy for rehabilitation, the corporation had brought out a new policy for the same now.

Bhardwaj said the corporation, looking at the human angle, is framing a policy.

The court asked Bhardwaj to incorporate the suggestions that may be put forth by Gonsalves and others. It told Gonsalves that the policy being only a draft now, he can challenge it if he is not happy when its finalised.

Gonsalves submitted that IAS officer Ashok Khemka had secured details of other illegal structures in the area and said these were also in the forest area.

“All unauthorised structures have to be removed”, the court said and ordered “needless to observe (that) the direction to remove all unauthorised structures on forest land applies to all structures without any exception…”

The bench said that this too shall be completed within the time frame.

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