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Report No. 138

4.13. Tamil Nadu Slum Act.-

The Tamil Nadu Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act, 1971 (11 of 1971), section 11, came up for construction in another case before the Supreme Court.1 This Act has to be read with the Madras City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919, sections 220 and 222, and the Tamil Nadu Land Encroachment Act 1905, section 2. In the writ petition before the Supreme Court in the Tamil Nadu case, the petitioners had asked for a mandamus restraining the respondents (the State of Tamil Nadu) from evicting the slum dwellers and pavement dwellers in the city of Madras, without providing alternative accommodation to them.

There was also prayer for a writ to direct the provision of basic amenities like water, drainage and electricity to slum dwellers. It was alleged that the State Government was pressing to evict the dwellers of about 450 huts situated on the Canal Bank Road near the Loyola College. As the Supreme Court was satisfied that the Government had adopted a liberal policy towards the slum dwellers, no writ was issued. However, a direction was given not to evict the slum dwellers before 31st December, 1985. Decision in the Bombay Pavement Dwellers case2 was declared as governing these writ petitions also. The relevant statutory provisions in the Madras case as summarised in the judgment of the Supreme Court were as under:-

"The Tamil Nadu Land Encroachment Act, 1905 provides by section 2 that all public roads, streets, lanes, paths, etc., are the property of the State Government. The Madras City Municipal (Corporation) Act, 1919 contains provisions in sections 220, 222 regarding encroachments on public streets. The Tamil Nadu Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act, 1971 was passed in order to make provision for the improvement and clearance of slums in the State. Section 3 of the Act contains provisions for the declaration of an area as a slum area if, inter alia, such area is or may be a source of danger to the health or safety of the public by reason of the area being low-lying, insanitary, squalid or over-crowded.

Section 5 of that Act empowers the prescribed authority to direct that no person shall erect any building in a slum area without its previous permission in writing. Chapter IV of the Act contains various provisions for improvement of slum areas. Section 11(a) provides that if the Government is satisfied that the most satisfactory method of dealing with the conditions in a slum area is the clearance of such area and demolition of all the buildings therein, it may by a notification declare the area to be a slum, clearance area, that is to say, an area to be cleared of all buildings in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The proviso to that section, which is important, requires that before issuing such notification, the Government shall call upon the owners of lands and buildings in such slum area, to show cause why such a declaration should not be made and that, after considering the cause, if any, is shown by such owners, the Government may pass such orders as it may deem fit. Section 29 of the Act provides that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, no person shall, except with the previous permission in writing of the prescribed authority, institute any suit or proceeding for obtaining a decree or order of eviction of an occupant of any building or land in a slum area, or execute such decree or order if it is already obtained."

1. K. Chandru v. State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1986 SC 204.

2. Olga Tellis v. Union of India, AIR 1986 SC 180.

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