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The Delhi High Court today said it will ensure that the right to life of persons displaced from Kathputli Colony here were not violated while refraining from taking action on the allegation that developers were hand-in- gloves with the DDA during the demolition drive. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed the DDA and the Delhi Police to maintain "strict status quo" in the West Delhi colony with regard to 53 slums. It said the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) shall strictly ensure that these 53 structures are not demolished or damaged till further order of this court. It said the residents, who are allegedly ineligible for rehabilitation, will get time to appeal against the DDA's demolition drive. The bench directed the authorities to communicate their decision to the residents within one week. It also made clear that so far as other 95 jhuggis are concerned, no person shall be permitted to occupy them. Spread over an area of around 14 acres, the Kathputli Colony is home to a large number of puppeteers, magicians, singers and musicians. "It shall be open for the DDA to fix markings on such jhuggis and to seal the same," the bench said, adding that it would appoint an observer who will be present at the site during the demolition drive. The court's order came on a PIL filed by some residents of the colony and an NGO challenging the demolition and the manner in which it was carried out. The counsel for the NGO even alleged that despite the order of the high court, the DDA was demolishing structures of the people who were yet to appeal and establish that they were eligible for relocation. The counsel said that the developer of the site had deployed goons who were not allowing the residents to stay and forcefully evicting them.
They are hand-in-gloves with the DDA and other agencies, so that the land is vacated at the earliest, he alleged. The petitioners alleged that the residents were beaten up by the police during the demolition drive and not allowed to take their belongings before their houses were razed. This allegation was refused by DDA's counsel Ajay Varma, saying they have been "faithfully abiding" by the directions made by the court on October 31 and November 1. The bench also objected to the allegations that DDA was hand-in-gloves with the developers in the demolition drive, saying "it is for us to satisfy that everything is in place. We will ensure that human rights are not violated". "We will take a strong action against anybody who has breached our orders," it said, adding that "it was our concern over right to life, so we have taken up this issue." "We are here to protect their life," the bench observed and said persons ineligible for relocation as per the DDA and whose houses were demolished in the drive should not be removed from the area so that they can prove their eligibility for relocation and rehabilitation.
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