The Bombay High Court recently dismissed a plea by slum dwellers seeking free alternative housing upon eviction from encroached land, emphasizing the disparity with salaried employees who do not receive such benefits [Vaibhavi SRA CHS Ltd v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.].
In its November 10 order, the court, represented by Justices GS Patel and Kamal Khata, expressed disapproval, stating, "They are, we are told, in a position to make these demands, and it does not matter — and should not matter — to anyone, even a court of equity that there is no such provision made for salaried persons working in the city."
Highlighting the financial burdens faced by salaried employees, the court noted, "It is these salaried employees who routinely draw on whatever sources they have... Nobody gives them a free house. Nobody gives them transit rent or any form of financial relief."
The case involved the Vaibhavi SRA Co-operative Housing Society, seeking relief for members facing eviction due to a land development project. The society sought to cancel the developer's appointment and requested alternative housing and transit rent.
The court acknowledged the petitioner-society's objections to the developer and their demands, including determining the location and setup of rehabilitation units. The court remarked, "There is such a thing as going too far. We do not believe that these societies have this spectrum of rights."
Advocate Simil Purohit, representing the developer, assured payment of transit rent until December 2023, contingent on the society accepting proposed plans. The court underscored that unrealistic demands, including substantial transit rent, could not be endorsed.
This ruling prompts a reflection on the disparity in housing benefits and financial relief, raising questions about the extent of rights for slum dwellers in determining rehabilitation unit aspects.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University