Delhi High Court Rejects Writ Petition on Rehabilitation Post-Demolition by Delhi Development Authority: Delay and Laches Highlighted

Delhi High Court Rejects Writ Petition on Rehabilitation Post-Demolition by Delhi Development Authority: Delay and Laches Highlighted


Case no.: W.P.(C) 3659/2023

Dated on: 22nd   May 2024



The genesis of the present petition lies in the petitioner’s claim that he is a daily wage labourer and had been residing in T-huts at Block A-70, Jhuggi No.770, Kanchan Puri, Rajghat Power House, New Delhi-02 since decades with his family. The petitioner claims that he has been holding a valid ration card, voter id card and a BPL card on the said address issued by the Government of India. Aiming at the Master Plan of Delhi 2021, the Delhi Development Authority was carrying out surveys since 1998 and areas were demarcated and individuals were identified for rehabilitation and resettlement, which process was completed in 2006, involving relocating the residents in exchange for the demolition of their existing dwellings, subject to the payment of a license fee. As part of this effort, the Petitioner was instructed to vacate the above-mentioned T-Huts for redevelopment and rehabilitation purposes. On 15.04.2006, the DDA issued an “Alternative Allotment cum- Demand Letter” to the petitioner, who claims that subsequent to such offer he demolished his T-huts and submitted the required documents along with an affidavit within the prescribed timeframe as per the letter’s directives and made a payment of Rs. 14,000/- to the respondent No. 1, which was duly acknowledged by them. However, despite receiving an advance license fee, the DDA/respondent No.1, who is the land-owning agency under Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, failed to fulfil its obligation to rehabilitate and re settle them by providing alternative housing. Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board/respondent No. 2 is the nodal agency for relocation/rehabilitation of Jhuggi Jhopri7 Bastis in respect of lands belonging to the NCT of Delhi, who is also the respondent No. 3 herein. Before filing the present writ petition, the petitioner claims that he visited the DDA office multiple times, running pillar to post, but to no avail. He also filed an RTI8 dated 05.02.2015 having office No. RTI/29/LM/EZ/15/91, in reply to which the petitioner received a letter from the DDA, stating that the no plot had been allotted against the said Jhuggi no. and that allotment would be done only to eligible Jhuggi residents by the constituted committee. On 31.03.2015, in response to the RTI application regarding information about the allocation of an alternative plot, the Deputy Director, PIO for Land and Management at DDA declined to provide the information, citing that it falls under the prohibition outlined under Section 11(3) of the RTI Act. It is stated that the petitioner, experiencing housing difficulties, made repeated visits to the respondent’s office in the year 2020, 2021, and 2022, yet did not receive any assistance, and therefore, they resorted to avail the legal remedy due to the inaction of the respondents through the present petition.


  1. Whether the petition should be dismissed on the grounds of delay and laches, considering that the petitioner waited approximately 17 years to file the writ petition after the cause of action arose in 2006.
  2. Whether the petitioner’s right to shelter, as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, has been violated by the failure of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to provide alternative housing after demolishing the petitioner’s T-huts.
  3. Whether the response received by the petitioner under the Right to Information Act (RTI) in 2015 and 2020 has any bearing on the present petition, especially regarding the eligibility and allocation of an alternative plot.
  4. Whether the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) or the DDA is the appropriate agency responsible for the petitioner’s rehabilitation under the prevailing policies and schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY).
  5. Whether the DDA and other respondents fulfilled their obligations under the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 and relevant rehabilitation policies, particularly in providing alternative housing to the petitioner after the demolition of his dwelling.
  6. Whether the High Court should exercise its discretionary power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ in favor of the petitioner, despite the significant delay in filing the petition.


Article 21 of the Constitution of India: This article guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty. The Supreme Court has interpreted this to include the right to shelter as a fundamental right under the right to life.

Article 226 of the Constitution of India: This article empowers High Courts to issue certain writs, including writs of mandamus, for the enforcement of fundamental rights and for any other purpose. It is a discretionary power that can be exercised in cases of clear injustice, but may be denied in cases of undue delay or laches


The learned counsel for the petitioner has relied on the judgement passed in the cases Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation and Chameli Singh Vs State of U.P., where the Apex Court has laid down that right to shelter is a fundamental right under the umbrella of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the said right to life is not a right of mere animal existence. Further, in the case of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation v. Nawab Khan Gulab Khan, Apex Court has held that even poverty-stricken persons on public lands have a fundamental right to housing and laid down that when a slum-dweller has been at a place for some time, it is the duty of the government to make schemes for housing of the jhuggi dwellers.


The learned counsel for the respondent No. 2 has pleaded that though DUSIB has been nominated as the Nodal Agency for the implementation of policy for relocation/ rehabilitation of JJ Basti upon the land belonging to MCD and Delhi Government and its Department/Agencies, as per the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy of 2015 which has now been renamed as “Mukhya Mantri Awas Yojna‟, however the current matter is out of its purview. Further, they have submitted that it is the DDA which is the state level nodal agency for in-situ rehabilitation of slum dwellers in respect of land belonging to Central Governments and its agencies under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna- Housing for All (Urban) [PMAY FIFA(U)] in Delhi, as per order issued by urban Development Department, GNCTD dated 20.09.17. The learned counsel for the respondent No.1/ DDA has submitted that the present petition is barred by delay and latches. They argued that the petitioner has been evasive about stating the details about the payment of the license fee and that the cause of action in the present matter, if at all, arose in the year 2006, whereas the petition has been filed after an inexplicable delay of 17 years in 2023. Further, it was submitted by them that on a bare reading of the said letter, it would show that it prescribed a limited license to 12.5 square meter plot to the petitioner, for a period of 5 years only, that to subject to payment of the due license fee, therefore, the terms of the license already stand exhausted. They allege that the petitioner has failed to show payment of any license fee on receipt of the said allotment letter.


The petitioner is invoking the extra ordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issuance of a writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ. I have given my thoughtful consideration to the submissions advanced by the learned counsels for the rival parties. I have also perused the record of the case. At the outset, the instant petition is hopelessly barred, so as to disentitle the petitioner of any relief by virtue of having been filed after inordinate delay and latches. Evidently, the hutment of the petitioner was demolished way back in the year 2006 and the ultimate allotment-cum-demand letter issued by the DDA dated 15.04.2006 merely conferred a limited right upon the petitioner to get licence at some demarcated site for a period of five years only, and that period has since lapsed. Assuming for the sake of convenience, that the petitioner after paying the sum of Rs.14,000/- in terms of the aforesaid offer dated 15.04.2006, evidently, he slept over his rights and did not take any action within a reasonable period of time. It appears that he only woke up sometime in the month of January, 2015 when he chose to file an RTI on 05.02.2015. It is well settled that the writ jurisdiction in terms of Article 226 of the Constitution of India, is a discretionary relief that can be denied on account of delay and latches on the part of the petitioner in approaching the Court. Avoiding the long academic discussion, in a recent decision by the Supreme Court in the case of Mrinmoy Maity v. Chanda Koley, it was reiterated that delay defeats equity and if there is laxity on the part of the petitioner to assert his legal rights thereby allowing the cause of action to drift away, the High Court in exercising writ jurisdiction should not rekindle the lapsed cause of action. In view of the foregoing propositions of law, reverting back to the instant matter, at the cost of repetition, the offer made to the petitioner vide proposal dated 15.04.2006 lapsed long time back and the present petition deserves to be dismissed on account of delay and latches. Accordingly, the instant Writ Petition is hereby dismissed.

“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”

Judgement Reviewed by – HARIRAGHAVA JP

Click here to read the judgement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *