The Bombay High Court heard a rare case on Sunday after a lawyer filed a petition on behalf of a 13-day-old girl who hasn’t even been given a name yet. Her mother had filed the case for the girl on March 28, challenging the state government’s decision to demolish the slum they lived in. The court, however, said it wouldn’t be able to rule in the petitioner’s favour since the slum in question is in a creek and, as such, is unsafe to live in.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The petitioner’s lawyer, in fact, had moved the high court when the girl had been just five days old. He argued that the child and her mother Noori Sameer Mujavar had been evicted unfairly from the slum in Kavthekadi at Yari Road after the government had ordered for it to be demolished. The slum dwellers had approached Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), which then filed the petition on the unnamed child’s behalf through advocate Mathew J Nedumpara.But the court dismissed the plea, citing the affidavit of the tehsildar concerned which clearly mentions the reasoning for the demolition. The court said that the shanties in the area couldn’t be allowed to exist any longer because the right to settle and reside enshrined in the Constitution doesn’t allow for permission to occupy government land, especially if houses are in an unsafe area such as a mangrove or creek.The HC also also pointed out that the name of the locality — Kavthekhadi — clearly shows that it is in a creek since the word ‘Kavthe’ itself means ‘creek’ in Marathi. So, even though the petitioner’s lawyer had argued that the demolition drive would render the 13-day-old child and her mother homeless, the court said it could not give permission for shanties to exist on creek land since these would be unsafe even for the occupants.In fact, a bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi ruled that the petitioner could not be allowed to reside in the area given that even animals would find it impossible to survive there.But at the same time, the court also mentioned that it would expect the government to take the plight of the displaced people into account. It also said that the state should explore ameliorative welfare schemes through NGOs, such as providing night shelters to the evicted residents.Earlier, social worker Medha Patkar, along with the evicted residents, had submitted a memorandum to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis expressing concern over the plight of the displaced people. Patkar had also met forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who had given an assurance that he would consider forming a committee involving local residents in order to save the mangroves. Bilal Khan of GBGBA and National Alliance of People’s Movement told dna that the two organisations would intensify their agitation after this verdict, since it was now the only way left to ensure relief for the homeless people.
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