8,253 squatters in MHADA transit camps face eviction
SC orders illegal occupants in state housing body's buildings to leave within 3 months; verdict makes it easier to drive out encroachers backed by political clout, officials say
A Supreme Court judgement spells trouble for 8,253 occupants residing illegally in the transit camps of MHADA. They have been directed to vacate the temporary lodging provided to them by the state housing body within three months or be prepared for forcible eviction. The SC ruling comes as a big blow to politicians who have been stalling the eviction drive from time to time for political gains.
After hearing the side of petitioners in the case, Sanjay Pawar and others vs MHADA & others, the SC bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and Sudhanshu Jyoti Mukhopadhyay declined to accept their contention that they were tenants of MHADA. Saying that the order given by joint chief officer of MHADA to evict the encroachers is within the tenets of law, the apex court warned the occupants against creating any third party rights in the three months given to them for vacating the transit homes.
The SC judgement will also enable MHADA to evict another 323 occupants who have been staying in its buildings on the strength of political clout, said a senior government official. The housing authority had been struggling with the issue of encroachments for the past several years. Evicting the squatters was difficult due to pressure from the political class. Members across political parties have time and again come forward to support encroachers in order to protect their vote banks. In fact, some encroachments were made at the behest of local netas, said an officer from MHADA.
Earlier, the Bombay High Court had turned down a petition submitted by the illegal occupants. The transit camp residents will also have to submit an undertaking to the registrar of the high court jointly or separately stating that they will, besides vacating the MHADA dwellings, not create any third party interests or allow any third person to stay. Any failure in its submission will enable the authority to evict them before the expiry of the three-month period, the SC order states.
The illegal occupants were given notices by the housing authority under Section 95 (a) of the MHADA Act. Contesting the notice, encroachers argued that they had entered into agreements with MHADA’s original tenants and had ration cards in their names. But their argument was rejected by MHADA officials, who said that the original tenants had already been rehabilitated by the housing authority.
56: Total number of transit camps
18,867: Total number of dwellings
6,936: Tenants in cessed buildings
1,497: Tenants in other types of buildings
8,253: Illegal occupants
*Figures as per MHADA records