In strong remarks on bulldozer action against those accused in criminal cases, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has said it has become “fashionable” for civic authorities to demolish homes without following proper procedure.
The Indore bench of the high court made the observations earlier this month in a case relating to the demolition of the home of Rahul Langri, who faces a case of voluntarily causing hurt to extort property. He is accused of threatening and assaulting a man, who later died by suicide. Langri was arrested and sent to jail. Police then got in touch with the civic body and his two-storey house in Ujjain was razed.
Langri’s wife Radha approached the court and said in her petition that a notice in the name of Raisa Bi, the previous owner, was served and the house was razed the next day without hearing them out. The house, she said in her petition, was not illegal. She said the house was registered with the housing board and they had taken a bank loan.
Justice Vivek Rusia ruled that the demolition was illegal and awarded a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to Radha Langri and her mother-in-law Vimla Gurjar.
The court also ordered action against civic officials for carrying out the demolition. The petitioners have now decided to move the civil court for higher compensation.
“As observed repeatedly by this court, it has become fashionable now for local administration and local bodies to demolish any house by drawing up proceedings without complying with the principal of natural justice and publish it in the newspaper. It appears that in this case also the criminal case was registered against one of the family members of the petitioners and demolition activities were carried out,” the court said.
The court added that instead of razing the houses, the petitioners should have been asked to get the construction regularised. It added that “demolition should be the last recourse to be followed, that too after giving a proper opportunity to the owner of the house to get it regularized”.
The petitioner Radha Langri alleged that her husband was jailed on false charges and their house demolished. “They gave a day’s notice and then razed our home. We tried to show them the property papers, but they did not listen. Now we have got justice,” she said. She added that a crime is committed by an individual and not by the family. “This (bulldozer action) should not be done.”
The petitioner counsel Tehzeeb Khan said, “If a criminal stays in a house, it does not mean every person in that house is a criminal. Razing his house will punish the innocents too.”