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This article is written by Darshit Vora of SVKM, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. This article does a case analysis of Rajesh Yadav v.State of UP and a detailed analysis right to shelter as a fundamental right is being done in this article.      

Introduction

The right to property can be interpreted as a fundamental right due to the passage of various judgments in the past by various Courts. In the present case, the same issue has arisen again. In India, till now the issue of housing concern is not being resolved. Some of the issues regarding the adequate housing schemes are as follows: forced evictions, Legal, Administrative and policy barriers against adequate housing policy for all, and the impact of globalization.  

Important provisions involved in this case 

Facts

In this case, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed for the removal of illegal possession and encroachment of respondents from particular plots in the district of Ballia. These plots were recorded in the revenue records as Khel Ka Maidan, Khalihan, and Khad ka Gaddha. After the order of the sub-divisional magistrate, some plots were recorded as Banjar and were allocated for residential purposes, the respondents constructed their houses The district magistrate ordered the removal of shelters of the respondent in this case the beneficiary was the son of the petitioner. PIL was filed by the petitioner because no action was taken against the respondent. The person who was allocated the land had no other place other than these houses which were made of tins and hut sheds.

Issues before the Allahabad High Court

  • Whether removal of the shelter of respondents would amount to the infringements of fundamental rights under Article 19(1)(e) read with Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. 
  • Whether the cancellation of the lease should the state provide alternate accommodation to the respondent. 
  • Whether any relief should be granted for this PIL. 

Observation of the Supreme Court

  • The agricultural land in dispute was transferred by the sub-divisional officer after inspecting the land. A lease was also granted by the competent authority. 
  • Right to shelter is a fundamental right granted under Article 19(1)(e) read with article 21 of the Indian Constitution, it’s the duty of the state to grant house sites to the residents. 
  • Shelter for human beings is not mere protection for life or limb, it provides opportunities to human beings to grow physically, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually. The right to shelter includes adequate space, safe and decent structure, decent surroundings, sufficient light, pure air and water, electricity, sanitation and other civic amenities. The right to life guaranteed in any civilized society implies the right to food, water, a decent environment, education, medical care, and shelter. 
  • It is necessary for the state to take steps in order to bring Dalits and tribes into the mainstream of national life. The Government should allocate support to the needy population. 
  • According to articles 38 and 39 of the Indian Constitution imposes responsibilities on the state to provide opportunities and promote the welfare of the people. According to article 38 and 46 efforts should be made by the state to reduce income inequalities The basic needs of man includes three food, clothing, and shelter. Under article 21 right to life and personal liberty, it is the responsibility of the State to construct reasonable houses for needy people.  
  • No person gets the right to encroach and erect structures or otherwise on footpath pavements or public streets or any other place which has a public utility. The state has a constitutional duty to provide adequate facilities and make the right to life meaningful and fruitful.
  • The present petition of the respondent cannot be accepted if it infringes on the fundamental right of the people guaranteed to them under Article 19(1) read with article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Therefore no direction can be issued. 
  • If the state authorities want to still remove the respondent they have to first allocate a suitable allocation before removing them from their residential houses. 
  • The interest of filling the present petition by the petitioner was in the interest of the petitioner’s son alone and it was not in the public interest. Therefore this petition is frivolous in nature. So exemplary cost is necessary to be imposed on the petitioner. 

The judgment of the Allahabad High Court 

The petitioner is guilty of attempting to infringe on the fundamental right of the respondents. Therefore the petition is dismissed and an exemplary cost is being imposed on the petitioner 20,000 rupees. 

Similar judgments 

Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation (1985) 

Facts 

In this case, the PIL was filed by the slum dwellers in the Bombay High Court,  the petitioners argued that they cannot be evicted without being offered alternate accommodation. 

Judgment

The court held that removal of residents amounted to breach of the right to livelihood mentioned under article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Court also held in this case that the right to livelihood should not be treated as a constitutional right which is the easiest way to deprive one of his/her rights. The State should secure adequate means of livelihood. 

In this case similar to Rajesh Yadav v. the State of UP the Court took a humanistic view in order to minimize the hardship of the petitioners.

Sudama Singh and others v. State of Delhi and others (2010) 

Facts

In this case, a petition was filed by the petitioner in order to reallocate places for the petitioners who were residing in slum clusters. 

Judgment

The Delhi High Court considered various international provisions it held that state that taking action to evacuate the petitioners must be provided with adequate compensation or alternate accommodation. 

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation v. Ahmed Singh and Gulab Singh (1996)

In this case, a similar judgment was as that of Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation where the court allowed the eviction of pavement dwellers on one condition that they are supposed to be provided with an alternate accommodation facility. 

Chameli Singh v. State of UP (1995) 

In this case, justice Ramaswamy after complying with the provision of the right to livelihood under article 21 and right to residence under article 19(e)(1) of the Indian Constitution. He held that right to shelter is an essential fundamental right under the right to livelihood.  

State of Maharashtra v. Basasntibhai Khetan (1986)

In this case, the Supreme Court dealt with Land ceiling laws which mentioned land acquisition and that law cannot be struck down on the ground of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court also stated that acquisition law doesn’t violate fundamental or constitutional rights but providing rehabilitation and resettlement is the responsibility of the State.  

International provisions on the right to shelter

  • Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: This article mentions that everyone has a right to a standard of living adequate for health and wellbeing of himself and his family including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  • International Covenant on economic, cultural, and social rights of 1966: It mentions that it is necessary to recognize the right to an adequate standard of living for everyone and his family including food, clothing, housing, and continuous improvement of living conditions. It is necessary that the state parties to appropriate steps ensure the realization of this right. 
  • The Vancouver Declaration on Human settlements, 1976: It mentions that adequate shelter and services are the basic human rights it is an obligation on the government to ensure that it is attained by all people, beginning with direct assistance to the least advantaged groups through programs, self-help groups, and community action. The government should remove all hindrances of these goals. Or special importance should be given on eliminating social and racial segregation which bled social groups, occupation, housing, and amenities. 
  • Habitat agenda goals and principles, Commitments, and global plan of actions, 1996: It mentions that it is an obligation on the government to enable, provide shelter and protect and improve dwellings, and neighbourhoods. Improving living and working conditions on an equitable and sustainable basis, so that everyone will have an adequate shelter that is healthy and safe, secure accessible and affordable and that includes basic services, services and amenities, will have freedom from discrimination in housing and legal security of tenure. 

Various schemes of the Government which provides  Shelter to the people 

  1. National Rural Livelihood Mission: This mission’s aim emphasises on increasing the household income and improving the financial service of the people. 
  2. National urban-rural development mission: It helps create a strong grass root and create opportunities for urban poor, helping them to set up self-employment ventures etc. 
  3. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana: Under this scheme, the objective st by the Prime Minister is to provide Housing for all by 2022. The houses are being provided to  the people at a very low cost. The scheme also allows the people to avail 2 lakh rupees of hoam loan from the bank.  

                    

Right to shelter under COVID-19 pandemic 

In the situation of a pandemic, the economy of our country is almost in a state of recession nearly 41 lakh of the youth population has lost their jobs and it’s still counting. In the situation of Covid-19 it is essential that people should be possessed with all the basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter and education. Though efforts were taken by the central government to provide food and transportation facilities to the workers this is sufficient it is essential to provide them with a shelter. The government should fastened that efforts which would help in achieving the target before 2022.  

Critique

It is necessary that there should not be any forced eviction that would affect them and they would be left with no space to stay. It is equally important to strike a balance between economic growth and human development. Though through various Supreme Court Judgment right to shelter is being recognized as a fundamental right it is equally important that there should be legislative backing. 

The Judgment pronounced by the Allahabad High Court is a significant step in compliance with the provision of housing for all.  Another important point that was made by the Court in order for the State to evict the pavement dwellers there are bound by the duty to allocate alternate accommodation facilities to them. Right to property is equally essential just like any other fundamental right. The State should not violate the rights granted to the citizens and comply with both national and international provisions.

Conclusion

One of the essential ways to curb this problem is by educating people. It is many times noticed that people aren’t about their rights. It was very rightly in the case of Shantistar builders v. Narayan Totame that the right to life would take within its sweeps the right to food, the right to clothing, the right to a decent environment, and a reasonable accommodation to live in. Though on various occasions schemes of housing for all have been passed by the government but have failed tremendously in order to fulfil this dream both centre and the State need to come together to satisfy the needs of the shelter of the needy and vulnerable group living in our society.

References


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