The Uttarakhand High Court’s order to evict people from railway lands in Haldwani was stayed by the Supreme Court on Thursday. Over 4000 families received eviction notices as a result of this order, despite their claims that they have lived there for years thanks to legal papers that have been recognised by the government.
The Supreme Court said that “there cannot be uprooting of 50,000 people in 7 days,” objecting to the High Court’s order to evict the residents within seven days.
In a group of special leave petitions filed in opposition to the decision rendered by a division bench of the High Court on December 20, 2022, a bench made up of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka issued the order while giving notice to the State of Uttarakhand and the Railways.
The State and the Railways were asked to come up with a “practical solution” as the Court extended the matter to February 7, 2023.
The bench was particularly worried with the fact that many of the occupants have been living there for years while asserting rights based on leases and auction purchases.
“There are two aspects of the issue. One, they claim leases. Two, they say people migrated after 1947 and the lands were auctioned. People stayed there for so many years. Some rehabilitation has to be given. There are establishments there. How can you say in seven days clear them off?”, Justice SK Kaul asked.
“People say they have been there for fifty years”, Justice Oka noticed.
What is troubling us that, how do you deal with the scenario of people who have purchased the land in auction. You may acquire the land and utilise. Other is people have lived there for 50-60 years, some rehabilitation scheme has to be done, even assuming it is railway land”, Justice Kaul said. “There is a human angle to it”, the judge added.
Justice Oka pointed out that the High Court has passed the order without hearing the affected parties. “Find out some solution. It is a human issue”, he said.
With high hopes for the Supreme Court hearing, thousands of people living in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura area were protesting the High Court’s decision to demolish the Muslim-dominated area.