The Delhi High Court, on January 3, 2018, asked a group of visually impaired students, whose hostel was recently demolished, to move to an alternative accommodation given to them, saying they were illegal occupants of government land and cannot claim legal rights over it. A bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar, however, asked the agencies concerned to ensure that the visually impaired students, who were left without a roof in winter, are lodged in proper regular hostels.
The court was hearing a PIL by nine visually impaired students, who have alleged that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) acted illegally, in forcibly evicting them from the hostel in south-west Delhi where they were residing since 2000. The petitioners also submitted that a direction be issued to the authorities, not to remove them from the site, where they were staying in temporary structures.
To this, the bench said that staying there since 2000, does not give them the right to encroach on government land. “You will have to move out of that place, as the agencies have also given you an alternative temporary accommodation,” the bench said and asked the counsel for the petitioners ‘with what authority the students are staying there’.
It also questioned how the hostel, Louis Welfare Progressive Association of the Blind, had been running for the last 17 years in Janakpuri’s Virender Nagar area. The bench also sought response of the centre, the Delhi government and the local authorities including the DDA, over the decision to demolish a hostel for the blind, which left 20 visually impaired students without a roof in winter. The court has fixed the matter for January 16, 2018.
Earlier, the court had sought the response of the authorities, after it came across a news report that occupants of the hostel for visually impaired had been sleeping in the open for almost a week, after the DDA demolished their hostel on December 15, 2017. The high court on its own initiated proceedings against the authorities, after the news report alleged that the occupants were neither given prior information about the demolition, nor ample time to gather their belongings.
Around 20 people, mostly students of Delhi University and the nearby Sarvodaya School, used to stay there. The fresh plea by students, also sought a direction to the authorities to reconstruct the demolished hostel building with all amenities, including electricity and water. They also sought compensation for material loss.