A 37-year-old Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court which held that pavement dwellers are different from trespassers may become a game-changer in the Jahangirpuri case.
What is the judgement?
- The Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation judgment in 1985 ruled that eviction of pavement dwellers using unreasonable force, without giving them a chance to explain is unconstitutional. It is a violation of their right to livelihood.
- The judgment agrees that pavement dwellers do occupy public spaces unauthorised. However, they should be given a chance to be heard and a reasonable opportunity to depart “before force is used to expel them.
- The case started in 1981 when the State of Maharashtra and the Bombay Municipal Corporation decided that pavement and slum dwellers in Bombay city should be evicted and “deported to their respective places of origin or places outside the city of Bombay.”
- Pavement dwellers, too, have a right to life and dignity. The right to life included the right to livelihood. They earn a meagre livelihood by living and working on the footpaths.