Following the mass scale demolition of Muslim settlements in Nuh, Haryana two Hon’ble judges of your court took suo motu cognizance of the matter and stayed further demolitions. Since then the case is being tossed around from one bench to the other. Too hot to handle? Political pressure at play? Leaving Haryana administration to fudge records, plant backdated legal notices for demolition? Ensuring that most Muslim victims would have migrated out of Nuh due to fear or police pressure or both.
I am sharing a first-hand experience which may help the Court while passing the final order. For most part of the period 1984 to 89 I had worked voluntarily at Jagat Mata Kusht Ashram, Tilak Nagar, New Delhi. On 05.06.1986, the Delhi Development Authority (D.D.A.) bulldozed slum tenements of these leprosy patients. Mrs Kapila Hingorani (now since deceased) raised the matter before the Supreme Court of India. During the court’s summer vacation a bench of the court headed by the then Chief Justice, P. N. Bhagwati passed a two page final order on 02.07.1986 inter alia stating:
“It is elementary that even if a person is unauthorisedly in possession of land or has constructed structure without lawful authority he cannot be forcibly evicted from such land or structure and whatever action is taken for evicting him, has to be in accordance with law. Since the learned counsel for the D.D.A. is unable to produce any order of the appropriate authority we must take the tentative view that action of the D.D.A. was not in accordance with law and if that be so, it is obvious that the person whose huts have been demolished and who have been forcibly thrown out should be provided with accommodation.” (emphasis provided)
The D.D.A. reconstructed the demolished jhuggis at state expense at the same site. Out of affection the leprosy patients named that part of the colony as ‘Justice P.N. Bhagwati Block’.
To the best of my knowledge this final order of the Supreme Court has not been set aside by a larger bench; this is the only such order passed by a court since 1947. You could Sir, use this order and pass a judgement to the effect that all the 1200 odd properties of Muslims be rebuilt at same site at state expense where these existed.
One way to nail the administration if it has fudged records or planted backdated legal notices is to call for the physical records. The movement of every one of these alleged legal notices should be on physical records at every level of bureaucracy; and then the post-office records of speed-posted letters/notices. A forensic analysis could be done of the files to ascertain if pages have been added at a later date. The local administration is bound to take the infamous plea that it had pasted notices on these 1200 odd properties of Muslims. But digital records will nail their lies as date, day, time of pasting 1200 odd notices will not be easy to fudge on videos, photos taken on mobile phones by the administration.
The nation is at crossroads. Your order could decide whether India slips into full-fledged fascism or on recovery road to secularism.
May you Sir, always pursue the path of truth!
Member, PIL Watch Group