Supreme Court, on January 4th, stayed the Uttarakhand High Court’s order to remove encroachments from railway land in Haldwani.
The Supreme Court has stated that 50,000 people cannot be evicted overnight from the railway land in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani while staying the Uttarakhand High Court’s order to remove encroachments from the area. The highest court in the land stated that a solution needs to be worked out keeping in view the people who face the threat of eviction from the railway land in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura area.
The Supreme Court’s two-judge bench said, “There needs to be clarity on whether complete land vests in Railways or what land belongs to the state…. 50,000 people cannot be evicted overnight.”
Supreme Court’s Justice SK Kaul noted, “There is a human angle to the problem, these are people. Something will have to be worked out.” The bench said a scheme for rehabilitation and rights of the various people while considering the needs of the Railways needs to be considered.
The apex court also issued a notice to the Pushkar Dhami-led Uttarakhand government and the Railways and posted the matter for further hearing on February 7. The Supreme Court was hearing petitions from residents challenging the Uttarakhand High Court order for the removal of encroachments from 29 acres of railway land. The Railways believes that there are 4,365 encroachers on the land.
Petitioners said the Uttarakhand High Court has committed a huge blunder in its order seeking the removal of encroachments with little regard to the title of the residents. The plea cited the “arbitrary and illegal” approach of the railways and state authorities. The petitioners further stated the High Court’s order led to a gross violation of their right to shelter. They also said they have valid documents that establish their title and valid occupation.
While ordering the removal of the encroachments, the Uttarakhand High Court, in December last year, had said that the area in question is the property of the Railways. The area has residences, religious places, schools, and business establishments spread over 29 acres. Those facing the threat of eviction have been living there for decades.
The court further ordered a “forceful possession of the occupied land” by authorities, including by the police and paramilitary forces, if the encroachers do not vacate the land. The court furthermore noted any cost recovery should be made from encroachers who do not vacate the land despite a week’s notice by the Railways and local authorities.
Residents have been asked to submit their licensed weapons to the administration before the removal of encroachment starts.
Earlier, High Court ordered the demolition of structures on the encroached railway land in Banbhoolpura, Haldwani on December 20, stating that a notice must be given to the encroachers before the encroachments are demolished.
The Supreme Court has scheduled a further hearing on the matter for February 7.
Earlier, thousands of people took to the streets in the freezing winter cold in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani in an effort to protect their homes after an eviction notice was sent to over 4,000 families living in the area which belonged to the Railway authorities. Heavy support was running over the nation for the people of Haldwani. Now, grateful residents including children are standing with placards and thanking the Supreme Court for its humanity.