Sunday, March 3, 2024

Allahabad HC stays demolition drive in Lucknow’s 50 year old locality

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday stayed the demolition drive in the “nearly 50-year-old locality,” providing relief to over “15,000 people” residing in Lucknow’s Akbar Nagar area during the height of the winter season.

The court also ordered the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) to “give a reasonable time of four weeks” to the residents to apply for the rehabilitation scheme.

The case has been scheduled for a follow-up hearing on January 22.

“The Lucknow Development Authority shall thereafter take steps for resettlement of the persons who have applied in terms of the (rehabilitation) scheme forthwith and obtain vacant physical possession of the present premises in their occupation,” Justice Pankaj Bhatia stated.

The court also said “the rights flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which includes the right to earn livelihood, is prima-facie affected and it is the bounden duty of the State and its instrumentalities to ensure that Article 21 of the Constitution of India is not violated”.

“At this stage, it is not clear as to what is the tearing hurry in which huge occupations by the relatively poor class of persons are being proposed to be demolished forthwith without even waiting for the scheme of relocating the adversely affected persons being implemented in letter and spirit and also exposing the poorest of the poor to the ensuing harsh winters,” said the court.

The court was hearing numerous petitions, including one filed against an order dated December 15, 2023, which dismissed all petitioners under section 27 (2) of the UP Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973.

The plea was filed against an order of demolition passed in October 2023 under section 27(1) of the 1973 Act.

As per the court order, the petitioners have been dwelling in Akbar Nagar-I and “peacefully enjoying the property for more than forty to fifty years without any interference whatsoever”.

Lucknow Development Authority had earlier officially claimed that the occupation in the area was “illegal and on a green belt area, which was liable to be demolished”.

In favour of the order, the lawyers representing the LDA and other respondents argued that the petitioners have not established any title over the property in question, irrespective of the nature of the land.

Responding to the claim, Senior Advocate J N Mathur argued that the petitioners were in occupation of the premises even before 1973, the year when the Act came into force, and hence the proceedings could not be initiated under the said Act.

He further emphasised that the authorities did not follow the procedural aspects and passed the order, based on the documents, which were never supplied to the residents.

It was also argued that large-scale demolitions being carried out in Lucknow, would affect the livelihood of the persons living and carrying out their petty occupations and professions for 40-50 years in a locality.

He maintained that such actions of the State are basically in violation of the rights enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

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