Rise in unauthorised constructions amid flaws in urban housing policies: Supreme Court [1.3.2024]

Observing that urbanisation policies have flaws, the Supreme Court has said one of the main reasons for spurt in unauthorised constructions is the government's failure to provide people with affordable houses.

Acknowledging that the right to have a roof over head is a fundamental right, the top court said there is a huge gap in the policies between the requirements of the economically weaker sections and what the government was doing at the ground level.

The observations by a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta came while hearing a case relating to demolition of commercial and residential units in Lucknow's Akbar Nagar where it imposed an interim stay on demolitions.

"Let us be clear on housing. There's a difficulty. Our urbanisation policies have flaws. Really speaking, we have not provided for economically weaker sections. Somewhere, we will have to ensure Everyone knows that migration takes place to the cities. But there is a huge gap in the policies between the requirements and what we are able to do at the ground-level.

"Why are there so many unauthorised colonies in Delhi? Because DDA (Delhi Development Authority) does not even know where 60-70 per cent of the land is. All has been acquired," the bench observed.

The top court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the demolition of commercial spaces in Lucknow's Akbar Nagar after the Allahabad High Court dismissed the pleas of the occupants on February 27.

Senior advocate S Muralidhar and Shoeb Alam, appearing for the petitioners, said the demolition started on February 27 after the high court order. They said residential houses were also being demolished along with commercial spaces.

Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, representing the UP government, submitted the matter related to demolition of residential houses constructed on government land on a river front is sub-judice before the Allahabad High Court and judgment has been reserved.

The ASG said the occupants put up all kinds of illegal commercial constructions on the riverbank without license or permission.

After hearing the submissions, the apex court said, "Till the judgment is pronounced, the Lucknow Development Authority/State government will not carry out demolition. They will abide by the order of the High Court.

02 Mar 2024