The Slum Act-1971 is now tougher, thanks to the assent given by President Pratibha Patil for major amendments. The illegal sale, exchange, gift, lease of the dwelling units allotted to slum residents under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme will now invite forceful eviction.
This is one of the most important provisions that have come into force. In April last year, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had tabled the amendments in the state legislature and, after its ratification, the Act was sent to the President of India for consent.
In one of the changes made to the Act, a developer who wants to participate in the slum rehabilitation project will now have to register himself with the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA). Among other changes, a grievance redressal committee will be formed and those who try to sell their dwelling units illegally will face forceful eviction.
The grievance redressal committee is proposed under Section 35 of the Act to redress various grievances regarding slum rehabilitation schemes. At present, no provision exists for any such appeal. Earlier, the competent authority — an officer of the rank of additional collector — would hear any complaint made by the slum dweller. With this new mechanism, an opportunity is being given to a slum dweller to file a second appeal before the grievance redressal committee. The government will decide on the qualifications of the persons for appointment as chairman and members of the grievance redressal committee.
Furthermore, the Act offers a definition of a developer, classifying him as any person or association of persons or a partnership firm registered under the Partnership Act, 1932 or a company registered under the Companies Act 1956, which wishes to undertake a slum redevelopment scheme.
In accordance with the observations of the HC in a PIL filed by Janhit Manch & others vs State of Maharashtra & others, a provision is made for eviction of occupants of tenements which are transferred by way of sale, gift, exchange, lease or otherwise before the expiry of 10 years from allotment by the allottee under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme.
Now, if a tenement is transferred by the allottee in contravention of the provisions of the Act, the competent authority shall, by order, direct the eviction of the person of possession of such tenement, even forcefully.