“Project for public good does not mean that you uproot the residents,” the Delhi High Court said Thursday while pulling up the Delhi Metro for not compensating a 66-year-old widow for acquiring her house, allotted in 1976, to construct a stretch between Trilokpuri and Mayur Vihar Pocket-I on the Pink Line.
Justice Navin Chawla restrained the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) from displacing the woman, Rihana Begam, from her home — House No. 15/128, Trilokpuri — till the next date of hearing on October 17. It also directed the Delhi Metro to produce files related to dispossession and alternate allotment of housing to the residents of Trilokpuri.
Residents of 108 plots in Block 15 of Trilokpuri have to be relocated so that land is available for construction of a missing link in the Pink Line. In her petition, the woman claimed she had insisted on Rs 1 crore compensation for her house, and rejected an offer of alternate housing by the DMRC.
Irked by the submission of the DMRC’s counsel that the woman is being given alternate accommodation, the judge observed: “I know you are doing something for public good, but still you have to keep in mind that their right to life is not affected.”
“You (DMRC) may have the plan for alternate accommodation, but that cannot be imposed on the family, which does not want to move. You also need to give adequate compensation. If you cannot, do not force them to leave their house.
“You look into the compensation aspect raised by the widow over here. If you cannot, I will open the Pandora’s box for other residents as well. I am not afraid of it. Do not uproot…,” the judge said.
On being told by the counsel for DMRC that the woman has accepted the offer of compensation, the judge, while referring to the papers, said, “There is a thumb impression on these documents, do you think she even understood what is written on it?”
Advocate Md Azam Ansari, appearing for the woman, urged the court that the DMRC be directed to pay at least Rs 1 crore compensation as she does not want an alternate house.
The counsel also requested that at least DMRC be directed to release Rs 40 lakh it had agreed on in the interim. The plea alleged that she was not being paid, despite insisting on compensation instead of alternate accommodation from day one.
“The DMRC is not paying the compensation and specifically said on July 24, 2019, that no compensation will be paid and only alternate housing will be given to the petitioner, which she refused and did not sign or put her thumb impression…,” the counsel argued.