CPR and CSH are pleased to invite you to a digital workshop on How to challenge eviction orders from the highest court?
Gautam Bhan in conversation with Arkaja Singh
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About the talk
On 31 Aug 2020, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India ordered the demolition of ‘encroachments,’ primarily consisting of settlements on railway land in the national capital. This order could lead to the forced eviction of 48,000 homes. Coming in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, this would expose large numbers of people to health risk and make them even more vulnerable in a time when many livelihoods and incomes are severely disrupted. Ironically, this order was passed in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) dealing with the issue of air pollution, where the material issue in the case was meant to be the mismanagement of solid waste (and its consequent burning) on railway land.
In a stark replay of previous PIL jurisprudence that has led to evictions in Delhi and elsewhere, residents had not been granted hearing in the case even though it affected their vital interests, and none of the other parties or the court had tried to quantify or apportion their precise contribution to the solid waste problem. In the decades since those previous cases however, rights to housing as well as those for relief, rehabilitation and procedural safeguard have also shifted. There have also been notable shifts in government policy in relation to ‘slums,’ both at central and Delhi state level. These shifts in government policy have come incrementally, much like the city’s housing itself, but collectively they provide legitimacy and an administrative basis for consultative processes to minimise displacement and adverse impacts for residents.
In this edition of the CPR-CSH monthly talk series we will discuss how, and in what ways, government policy was changed, and how these changes came about, considering local and national, bureaucratic and political dimensions of these changes. Given that the Supreme Court has asked the Railways as well as the Central and State governments to figure out a “plan” between them, we will discuss the implications of the legal history of rights to housing as well as current government policy on the contours of such a plan, as well as argue that leaving communities out of its making represents a serious concern.
About the speakers
Gautam Bhan is Senior Lead, Academics and Research at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements. He is also part of urban social movements against forced evictions in Delhi and nationally.
Arkaja Singh is a Fellow at Centre for Policy Research and a part of the State Capacity Initiative. She is a lawyer by training and her areas of interest include cities, urban policy and government, land and informal settlements.
Find all the available videos of our previous workshops, here.
This is the hundred and twenty-eighth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Rémi de Bercegol at email@example.com, Olivier Telle of CSH at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mukta Naik at email@example.com or Marie-Hélène Zerah at firstname.lastname@example.org.