Election Commission and slum evictions

EC has again directed no evictions without its
permission. EC can't permit evictions.
Here is the letter sent today about this. Joint
statement about last year's EC directive is at:

Chief Election Commissioner
Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi -110001

Sub: EC directive about slum evictions in Delhi
Ref: News report titled 'Stop slum evictions: EC' in
The Hindu dated 18.02.2004

According to the report under reference, in the run up
to Lok Sabha elections, EC's letter of 12.02.04
directs stoppage of evictions with proviso for special
permission. This is consistent with EC's directive
before Assembly elections, as is the scuttling
response of MCD Commissioner quoted in the report.

Please permit me to point out apropos 'special
permission' (or for that matter 'court order') routes
being increasingly taken by authorities to justify
forcible evictions that these are being obtained by:
(a) hiding facts like slums in Delhi being backlog on
targets for mandatory EWS housing, schemes requiring
their eviction often lacking basis in law, and current
resettlement being likewise unlawful
(b) hiding facts of citizens' representations,
including by due processes of law as well as in court
matters (and even orders), against illegalities and
selective projection of facts, etc
(c) making assurances that are later neither kept nor
In effect, courts and commissions are being misled to
endorse disregard by authorities of laws guaranteeing
citizens? rights, and this is undermining public
confidence in institutions of democracy.

As a planner I state with full responsibility that
lawful planned development of Delhi does not call for
any relocation that cannot wait till after Lok Sabha
elections and disruptions involved in pre-election
evictions infringe not only individual right to vote
but also community right to effectively participate in
the electoral process by raising relevant issues.
Accordingly, I wish to place on record the following:
1. For protection of individual and collective rights
vis-à-vis electoral processes, EC must stop
pre-election dislocation unconditionally, with clear
penalties against breach as well as adequate
mechanisms to empower citizens to secure compliance
(unlike last time, when officials in charge of
demolitions without EC permission simply said they
were not governed by EC).
2. If, for any reason, EC chooses to permit evictions,
it must accept all responsibilities attendant to
assumption of powers vis-à-vis developmental rights.
Not only must it monitor assurances on basis of which
it accords such permission, it must mind all
responsibilities arising from Delhi Development Act
and Delhi Master Plan (legal regime governing planned
development of Delhi), notably ensuring legality of
the authorities' schemes and/or opportunity for public
scrutiny and comment as guaranteed by the Act.
Permissions it gave last year were, perhaps,

These issues have already been raised in a joint
statement of several citizens' groups pursuant to EC
directive last year and in correspondence thereafter.
It is also pertinent to mention that the issue of
forcible and unlawful evictions in Delhi is
intrinsically connected with the DDA scam that CBI
exposed in March 2003 (besides subsequent corruption
exposes in premier urban authorities and institutions
and unofficial exposes of activities of funded civil
society organisations), which 13th Lok Sabha failed to
discuss and about which representations (many,
incidentally, inclusive of said joint statement)
invited by a Standing Parliamentary Committee in June
2003 were also not heard.

I seek an urgent appointment to place before the
Commission facts apropos instances for which its
permission for unlawful evictions is undoubtedly going
to be sought, facts that authorities have failed to
place before the courts and are unlikely to place
before the Commission.
I do hope my offer will not be disregarded.

Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma / Planner
B.Arch (SPA, gold medalist); M.Planning (SPA, gold
medalist); PG Dip-Research (IHS-Rotterdam, top rank);
Dip-Training (DoPT)
Formerly: Senior Fellow (HUDCO-HSMI), Visiting Faculty
(SPA, TVB SHS), Consultant (DfID, IHSP, Nuffic,
UNICEF, etc)
Currently: Independent researcher / writer and
consultant to citizens? groups synergising on Master
Plan Implementation Support Group

cc: for information, in continuation of previous
letters / representations
· Chief Vigilance Commissioner, CVC
· Chairperson, NHRC

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