Delhi High Court: In a case wherein an appeal of a woman jhuggi dweller had been rejected by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board’s (DUSIB) Appellate Authority as her name was not in the voter list of the years 2009 and 2010, a Single Judge Bench of Prathiba M. Singh, J. held that the rehabilitation could not be rejected merely on the ground that the voter ID card was not produced by the woman. Further, the Court held that the Appellate Authority would have to consider all other documents too before concluding whether the petitioner was entitled to rehabilitation or not.
The present petition was filed by the petitioner, a resident of jhuggi with her husband and children, between 2001 till 2010. The case of the petitioner was that the husband of the petitioner deserted her in 2009 and the entire JJ cluster was stated to have been demolished in 2010. According to the petitioner, she was entitled to relocation and rehabilitation, as per the policy of the Government of Delhi. She along with her jhuggi dwellers filed the writ petition in Dharampal Singh v. GNCT of Delhi, 2011 SCC OnLine Del 4296 but the same was disposed of and all such dwellers who were found to be eligible were to be relocated as per DUSIB’s policy.
Thereafter, guidelines were issued by the Government titled as ‘Guidelines for implementation of the Scheme for relocation/rehabilitation and allotment of flats to the jhuggi jhopri dwellers under JNNURM-2013’ (JJ Scheme). The petitioner applied for rehabilitation under the said scheme. The Eligibility Determining Committee held a camp between 5-1-2016 to 15-1-2016, where out of the 85 jhuggi dwellers, who had filed the petition, only 52 were found to be entitled to rehabilitation. The petitioner was declared ineligible; therefore, the petitioner challenged the declaration of in-eligibility before the Appellate Board of DUSIB. The Appellate Board rejected the petitioner’s appeal because she did not produce the voter ID card for the years 2009 and 2010.
Submissions on behalf of the Petitioner
Counsel for the petitioner submitted that as per the scheme, various other documents could be accepted as the residence proof in the jhuggi. The only ground, which appeared for rejection of petitioner’s appeal was that the voter ID card had not been submitted.
Submissions on behalf of the Respondents
It was submitted that the guidelines clearly stated that the voter ID was mandatory and other documents would be in addition to the voter ID card only.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court opined that the fact that the parties could not produce the name featuring electoral roll, would not be enough for disqualification of jhuggi jhopri dwellers for rehabilitation and a perusal of the order passed by the Appellate Board showed that the only ground on which she had been disqualified was because of her name not being in the voter list of 2009 and 2010. The Court further noted that the petitioner relied upon various school records of her two daughters to establish that she was resident of the said jhuggi and the petitioner also relied on her own bank records, bank passbook etc. for the said purpose.
The Court relied on Udal v. Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 9715 wherein it was held that “other documents which might establish residence at the said jhuggi would have to be considered holistically. The purpose of these policies was to ensure rehabilitation and relocation to economically weaker sections and would have to be interpreted in a broader and beneficial manner rather than a narrow and pedantic manner”.
Therefore, this Court held that “the Appellate Board would have to consider all other documents as well before arriving at a conclusion as to whether the petitioner was entitled to rehabilitation or not. The petitioner’s case could not be rejected merely on the ground that the voter ID card was not produced”.
The matter would next be listed on 20-2-2023.
[Smt. Beni v. Govt. (NCT of Delhi), 2023 SCC OnLine Del 478, decided on 30-1-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: Advocate Aditi Gupta;
For the Respondents: ASC Satyakam;
Advocate Pallavi Singh;
Advocate Naveen Roheja.
*Judgment authored by: Prathiba M. Singh.
*Simranjeet Kaur, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.