Report No. 138
9.5. It is therefore recommended that a central legislation be enacted providing that notwithstanding any provision contained in any local law, slum dwellers shall not be evicted without providing to them alternative accommodation by way of a site for shifting their huts or other accommodation or facility so as not to reader them shelterless or roofless. Such alternative accommodation, site or facility offered for rehabilitation shall be within as short a distance as may be reasonably practicable, having regard to the circumstances, of the place from where the slum dwellers are sought to be evicted. In the event of any dispute as to whether the alternative accommodation, site or facility is within such reasonable distance of the said place, the decision of the District Judge of the Court having jurisdiction in respect of the concerned area shall be final.
9.6. It appears that a provision absolutely prohibiting the eviction of a slum dweller etc., unless alternative accommodation site or facility is provide, might not be workable in practice, and that there should be some power in the Government to dispense with the proposed statutory requirement in appropriate cases. In our opinion, the best course would be to invest the State Government with the power to dispense with the proposed statutory requirement of providing alternative accommodation or facility to the proposed evictee if two conditions are cumulatively satisfied, namely:-
(i) the State government is satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable, in the circumstances of the case, to provide alternative accommodation, site or facility as envisaged by the proposed provision, and
(ii) the State government further records in writing its satisfaction that public interest demands that such eviction, resulting in rendering the occupants roofless, requires to be proceeded with, notwithstanding the fact that alternative accommodation or facility cannot be provided by the concerned local authority or the State Government.
9.7. It may also be provided that the protection provided by these provisions shall apply to all slums existing on the date of the enforcement of the Act and to new slums which come into existence thereafter provided the said new slums have existed for at least six months immediately preceding the date of service of the notice on the occupants for taking action by the concerned local authority.
9.8. It is also desirable to ensure by law that essential services or facilities are not denied or cut off to occupants of slums on the ground of their alleged illegal' occupation. The provision could be on these lines:-
(i) No local authority or other public body, either itself or through any person purporting to act on its behalf, shall, without just and sufficient cause other than that the concerned slum dwellers are in illegal or unauthorized occupation of any land,-
(a) withhold, deny, refuse to provide any essential supply or service to any slum locality, or
(b) cut off or discontinue any such existing supply or service enjoyed by the occupant of any premises in a slum area in respect of the premises so occupied nor shall the supply or service be withheld without serving on the concerned occupants a notice giving clear two months' time to comply with the notice requiring the occupant to remove the cause set out for the proposed action.
(ii) If a local authority or local body contravenes the above provision, the occupier may make an application to the competent civil court, complaining of such contravention.
(iii) If the civil court is prima facie satisfied that the local authority has acted in contravention of the aforesaid provision, the court shall direct the local authority concerned to provide or restore the supply pending inquiry. Such order may be passed without notice but may be confirmed, varied or vacated after notice and hearing.
(iv) If the civil court, on inquiry, find that any essential supply or service was denied, withheld or refused to the occupier or if any such supply or service enjoyed by the occupier in respect of the premises was cut off or withheld by the local authority in contravention of the aforesaid provision, it shall make an order directing the local authority to restore such supply or service.
(v) Without prejudice to the above provisions, the civil court may, in its discretion, direct that appropriate compensation not exceeding one thousand rupees be paid to the occupier by the local authority if the local authority had cut off or withheld the supply or service or failed to provide such service in contravention of the said provision.
For this purpose, "essential supply or service" will include supply of water, electricity, conservancy and sanitary service, and street lighting or lighting in the slum area. As regards execution of the order passed by the competent civil court for granting of or restoration of essential supply or service, a penal provision may suffice in the following terms:-
"Penalty for contravention of the aforesaid provision-If any local authority or any officer thereof contravenes the provisions of section... or contravenes any order passed by the court in this connection, it or he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both."
9.9. The proposed legislation pertains to eviction by the local authorities. Of course, this expression, as defined in General Clauses Act, 1897, will cover a variety of urban and rural institutions of local self government as also Cantonments. Incidentally, it may be mentioned in regard to Cantonments that the legislative competence to regulate their powers and functions is vested in Parliament under Union List, entry 3, which reads as under:-
"3. Delimitation of the Cantonment areas, Local Self Government in such areas, the constitution and powers within such areas of Cantonment authorities and the regulation of House, accommodation (including control of rents) in such areas."1
1. See lndu Bhushan v. Rama Sundari, 1969 (2) SCC 289 (292, 293, 294, 296, 298).