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Report No. 138

4.3. Petitioners' contentions.-

The petitioners had asked for a judgment to the effect that they could not be evicted from their Bastis and squalid shelters without being offered alternative accommodation. They relied for their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. They did not contend that they had a right to live on the pavement. Their contention was as under:-

(i) They had a right to live (Article 21 of the Constitution);

(ii) This right could not be exercised without the means of livelihood;

(iii) For exercising this right and for seeking the means of livelihood, they had no option but to flock to big cities like Bombay which provided the means of bare subsistence;

(iv) They chose a pavement or a slum which was nearest to their place of work. "In a word, their plea is, that the right to life is illusory without a right to the protection of the means by which alone life can be lived.";

(v) The right of life can be taken away or abridged, only by a procedure established by law. This procedure has to be fair and reasonable, so as to satisfy the requirements of Article 21 of the Constitution. The procedure prescribed by the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act or the Bombay Police Act was arbitrary;

(vi) The petitioners also relied on the right to reside in any part of the country, being a right which is guaranteed by Article 19(1)(e) of the Constitution.

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