Khori village Forest can't be encroached upon no right for people to be there says SC

    New Delhi, Nov 12 (PTI) The Supreme Court Friday said that those who were residing in unauthorised structures, which came under the Aravali forest area in Faridabad's Khori village, had no right to be there and a forest is not an open land that can be encroached upon by anyone.
    The apex court, which was hearing the matter about Khori village where unauthorised structures standing on forest land were demolished, observed that the court had time and again questioned the existence of structures on the forest land.
    The top court's observation came after a counsel, appearing for some of the petitioners who have raised certain issues including the eligibility criteria in the rehabilitation scheme of Faridabad municipal corporation, argued about the right to housing, right to livelihood, and right to life.
    “Please understand that you had no right to be in the forest. No one can claim the right to be in the forest. It is not an open land which can be encroached upon by anyone,” said a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari.
    “There is no right to be in the forest. You have been removed because it is a forest area and that was the declaration …. the Supreme Court time and again has been questioning the existence of structures on that land,” the bench said.
    During the hearing, senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for some other petitioners, argued on certain aspects including the eligibility conditions in the scheme and the documents to establish residential proof.
    The bench observed that the issue is essentially about identifying the true owner of the house and whether such a structure was demolished.
    It said the other issue is whether the person is eligible for rehabilitation in lieu of the demolition.
    “So far as identification is concerned, that is in the interest of everybody including your bona fide occupants who deserve rehabilitation,” the bench told Parikh.
    Senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj, appearing for the municipal corporation, said that the Aadhaar card alone cannot be the basis to establish proof of residence of applicants at Khori village.
    The bench observed that the Aadhaar card cannot be treated as proof of residence and would be used as a proof of identity.
    It said the existence of the structure which was demolished and other relevant things will have to be examined by the corporation.
    The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on November 15.
    On October 8, the top court had said that the Aadhaar card would be one of the documents to be taken into account by the municipal corporation for making provisional allotment of EWS (Economically Weaker Section) flats under the rehabilitation scheme to eligible applicants.
    As an interim arrangement, the apex court had directed the civic body to process the applications if it is accompanied by an Aadhaar card to make provisional allotment subject to verification of the applicant.
    The bench had made clear that provisional allotment of EWS flats would not create any right in favour of the person until he establishes his eligibility as mandated under the rehabilitation scheme.
    In a status report filed earlier in the top court, the municipal corporation had given details including that of the modified timeline for the process of allotment under the rehabilitation scheme to eligible applicants of Khori 'jhuggis'.
    It had said a total of 2,583 applications have been received till September 29 and 360 applicants have taken temporary possession of flats till September 30.
    The report had said as per the apex court’s direction, the timeline for rehabilitation has been modified and the last date of submission of application is now November 15 and final allotment letters would be issued on December 15.
    The corporation had said it has also accepted the suggestion to reduce the initial payment for the flat from Rs 17,000 to Rs 10,000 and further increased the period of repayment from 15 to 20 years.
    The civic body had earlier told the apex court that they will be making a payment of rent/solatium of Rs 2,000 per month to the eligible applicants from November 1 for six months or actual physical possession of flats, whichever is earlier.
    On June 7, the top court had directed Haryana and Faridabad municipal corporation to remove “all encroachments”, consisting of around 10,000 residential constructions, in the Aravali forest area near the village, saying “land grabbers cannot take refuge of rule of law” and talk of “fairness”. PTI ABA ABA RKS

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)