Important Judgements In News

Undoing the right to housing


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Right to livelihood and related Articles

Mains level: Paper 2- Right of livelihood

The article analyses the implications of recent Supreme Court order regarding the removal of encroachment along the railway line. 


  •  In short order, the Supreme Court of India on August 31 ordered the removal of about 48,000 slum dwellings situated along the railway tracks in Delhi.
  • The order raises several legal questions, which are discussed below.

1) Violation of the principle of natural justice

  • The order violates principles of natural justice and due process because it was delivered without hearing the affected party, the jhuggi dwellers.
  • The order was passed in the long-running case on the piling up of garbage along railway tracks.
  • However, neither this case nor the report concerns itself with the legality of informal settlements.
  • Still, the Court made an unconvincing connection between the piling of garbage and the presence of slums.

2) Ignoring the right to livelihood

  • In this order, the Court ignored its long-standing jurisprudence on the right to livelihood.
  • In the landmark decision concerning pavement-dwellers, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Olga Tellis & Ors vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation & Ors. (1985) held that the right to life also includes the “right to livelihood”.
  • Further, in Chameli Singh vs. the State Of U.P. (1995), the Supreme Court recognised the “right to shelter” as a component of the right to life under Article 21 and freedom of movement under Article 19(1)(e).

3) Failure to consider policies and case laws

  •  High Court of Delhi has held that prior to any eviction, a survey must be conducted.
  • The procedure laid down in this judgment formed the basis for the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015.
  • In Ajay Maken & Ors. vs Union Of India & Ors. (2019), the Delhi High Court invoked the idea of the “Right to the City” to uphold the housing rights of slum dwellers.
  • This case led to the framing of a Draft Protocol for the 2015 Policy on how meaningful engagement with residents should be conducted.


The Courts need to strike the balance between the rights of the slum dweller and those affected by the encroachment.

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